Thursday, August 23, 2007
Minutes after completely bootstrapping the entire grid from another update,
Torley enlightens us on how to turn off those icky typing animations and sounds.
Yeah, thanks Torley. Totally what everyone was clamoring for. Way to go.
I have a theory on Torley, but it's brash and probably irrational. I'll have to let it stew for a bit.
The problem with paperclips is their simplicity. You have a strand of aluminium. It's almost two dimensional. Link them together and you have a a bunch in a line, or link a lot to a single point and they make something that looks like metal hair. You can't really mold and fold them into anything besides intricate 2D lines and shapes. There is no third dimension, they are incapable as inanimate objects to exist or comprehend three dimensions as we know them. Thus, while extraordinary at temporarily binding sheets of paper with minimal cost and use of material, they are a poor medium for art.
Which brings us to butterfly clips. Now these, are art of and by themselves. Their triangular 'mouth' which has slender crocodile lips projecting from it, which can snap back and forth for a bite radius of almost 270 degrees. These are no mere 2D clips, these fully exist in the third dimension and they let you know it. Try storing a bunch, it's difficult! They're bulky and rarely fit into any human made container.
Yes, the singular clip is a piece of work by itself. But what about multiple clips? If one is art, two is a masterpiece. If two is a masterpiece, three make a Sistine. And they clip together solidly. They don't slip and slide and fumble about like two linked normal paperclips, when two butterflies clamp it's a solid bond, it's not going or moving anywhere. But it's not too permanent, with a twist of the hand it easily comes off, for adjustment or placement elsewhere.
They are mostly uniform in color and design, making any sculpture aesthetically pleasing. The only differences I've noted are in size (different sizes are a bonus, gives 'texture' to your piece) and the very very rare white/green colored ones. For these reasons, the basis of any office sculpture worth its salt is the butterfly clip. It is the rock upon which you set your foundation, without it you have pieces of office supplies, with it you have da Vinci.
And this is not to say that you should solely use butterflies either. Feel free to add regular standard paperclips, rubber bands, pens, pencils, markers, staple removers, staplers, quarters, discarded forms and papers, thumbtacks, CDs, 3 ring binders, cables, CD cases, screwdrivers, floppy disks, floppy drives, screws, nails, name plates, tape, garbage bags, staples, computer monitors, computers, phones, copiers, fax machines, clocks, fluorescent light bulbs, printers, desks (not necessarily the entire desk, pieces of it will do), folders, discarded coffee cups, electrical outlets, USB flash drives, carts, rug, co-workers, and Rolodexes to your artwork. The more the merrier!
Upon its completion, you should always show your boss your impressive achievement. The more time and material wasted on it, the more impressed she/he/it will be.
I encourage anyone making such a sculpture to email a photo of it, as well as divulging the length of time spent in the unemployment line due to it. I assure that everything will be anonymous.
SL has always had competition in the Three Dimensional Universe department, the most notorious of these being World of Warcraft and There. The former isn't really similar at all, the only relation is that it hosts people on servers. WoW does not allow content creation or land ownership. But we have to remember the First Rule of the Universe: People are stupid. They will believe whatever they want to believe and they will believe what they are told. SL and WoW are only similar in the sense that English and Korean are similar because they both use your voice box to make sounds.
WoW does have one thing SL does not, and that is stability. I've never played it myself, but I've yet to hear of massive gridwide failures in there, so I assume it is either very rare or very localized. You also have to pay to play, pay for the game itself and then for a subscription. As a non-paying SL user, I'm not too enthused about that, but it again tops SL in that WoW's eight million pay massive amounts of moolah. SL has eight million accounts, but the often heard refrain is, only three percent of those are active accounts (probably half are alts), and only ten percent of that three percent are subscribing customers to LL. There is no doubt WoW has a slightly smarter business model.
But does it really have the edge? Sure, it's too easy to flog SL for being glitchy and crashy, barely profitable and hard to discern any clear goals. But in WoW, we have... quests that you finish and then you're done. I'm sure there are probably more than you could ever do, else it would quickly get boring. There's also groups in it that band together to destroy dragons/other players/themselves. And once you're bored of that, then what? Any WoW players out there care to tell me what then? SL has a certain kind of freedom, where I'm never finished. If I finish building, say a streetlight, then I move on to the next thing I'd like to create. Or I could go hang out with some friends at a bar. Or maybe explore the supposedly 6,000 islands out there. Or maybe I'll go play around with someone's head. Perhaps I feel like blogging about and telling the SL world about it. Here is the beauty, it never gets old as long as you have the imagination.
There comes close. There has the same type of idea and concept of 'your world, your imagination'. But it felt claustrophobic and less immerse. I had to clear my builds with someone to make sure it wasn't anything risque or harmful. The interface was more stable than SL's, but occasionally refused to start at all for reasons unknown to me. It would start and say "loading please wait", and then hang there for hours. I left my computer on for ten hours while I went to work, and when I came back it was still hanging there. It was intermittent. A friend suggested that I log into their website and then run the program, but to no avail. It was supposedly free, so it's not like I had to pay for their service. It's just as well, because I probably would not have stayed long, when it did work it felt cartoony and distorted although that could just be a newbie's complaint.
Kaneva is another, although it hasn't really taken off as far as I've heard. Part of this is due to the fact that you have to start a myspace page of sorts, and befriend a few people and get involved and then you're allowed to access their universe, which while it allows you to create it also cuts off exploration to specific rooms, giving a very claustrophobic feel to it. I'm still waiting to 'enter' their universe, apparently I'm not 'involved' enough yet. From what I've heard, though, I don't think I'll like it too much there either.
MTV ran a 'Laguna Beach Simulator' that has to be a self parody. You can't really do anything in there, you just stand around and chat. In fact, this is becoming the template of the metaverse, you pick an avatar and a setting and you just chat. Nothing else to it, no exploration, no creativity, no nothing. IMVU is also like this. I couldn't care less for either. If I wanted to chat I'd either stay in SL with its extras or go on AIM or Yahoo or Gmail. It's silly, and nothing more than a gimmick to stand out from the current crop of IM machines.
A few others have died. Anyone still play The Sims? ActiveWorlds? Anyone? Let's be fair and honest, I haven't been to either so perhaps I'm out of the loop regarding these, but across the internet lay the scattered bodies of other virtual worlds, all of which enjoyed their moment in the sun and then fell into obscurity, never to be seen again. Who says SL will be any different?
So, right now we have a crop of very limited universes with limited abilities. SL seems to come out on top. After all, it gives the most freedom and while not as profitable as WoW certainly has held long enough to last for three or four years.
But this is where SL's Achilles heels come into play. SL IS buggy, and laggy, and crashes often, and when it doesn't crash it destroys something (perhaps your inventory, perhaps your friends list, or maybe it eats your money or whatever you've placed out on your land). The point is that a bad crash or a faulty restart on LL's part, and you're screwed. It's very unforgiving, and LL offers no help besides consoling you. Some pin this on griefers, but I don't see any evidence to support that. The M.O. of most griefers nowadays is to attack a specific target or group rather than the grid at large. At most, they might be slowing it a little, but nothing on the scale that the typical SLuser is used to. LL has put up precautions against the kinds of grid attacks that occurred during the dark dark days of July-November 2006 (the last I can recall occurred on November 20th), with the infamous grey goo plastered about.
No, this problem is far far deeper and complex, more likely due to a multitude of bad decisions and ad hoc infrastructure. The thing is held together by a wing, a prayer, some gum, and duct tape. This cannot last long. And this, ultimately, is why SL is still not the dominant beast it should be. When there is so much lag that I cannot move, then things like IMVU and MTV Laguna Beach look attractive. When I can't access my inventory and thus cannot finish a build, There with its (relatively) stable grid looks like heaven. If SL can only just hold its own against these lame competitors, then how is it expected to perform against the new kids on the block? How will its aging and increasingly dilapidated software compete when others offer the same experience?
The short answer is it can't. At the rate it is going, it will limp along for a year, maybe a year and a half but no longer, before it finally drains of players and collapses under its own costs. The number of premium accounts being signed up is dropping, and their sheer numbers are dropping too. People are becoming somewhat dissatisfied with being promised that this update will ease grid problems and then having it worsen them instead (on at least one occasion, as I recall, LL offered the opportunity to 'back'-date to an older client version as the then-recently released update was so horrendously full of bugs even Torley noticed it).
We can also see this in the outside world. Recently Forbes and Times whipped SL a new one, and they're not alone. The trend is turning against SL and it is going to get ugly. The above described issues generate most of this hate. Why should they endorse something that hardly works? Apologists are already dismissing these among other articles as "hate pieces written by those who know not what they speak of". Should we really be dismissing them out of hand? Shouldn't we investigate their arguments? Even a lie has a grain of truth at its center, like a pearl. It surely couldn't hurt to have a small team work to bring stability back to SL, and on the side check out these issues being brought up and discussed. Do we really need all 250 Ls working on bringing Voice to stability? Do we need 250 Ls working on Windlight?
I love SL. It is the best virtual world I've visited by far. But it pains me to watch it fall and turn into a hideous and bloated beast. About nine months ago, I regularly crossed sims on vehicles, and I used to fly across the SL scape on vehicles I made myself. There was about three seconds of delay as SL processed that you were indeed crossing into the next sim, and if you were walking it took no time at all. The other day, I was stuck inside a sim, I couldn't rezz things and when they did appear I crashed each time I tried to cross into the next sim. Even walking resulted in horrible crashes about eighty percent of the time. I should not have to TP into the next sim over to meet a neighbor, I should be able to walk there.
And until SL makes it easier for everyone to walk there, they'll be walking somewhere else.
You pay them RL money for fake money. It gets passed around, and eventually either you or someone you paid (directly or indirectly down the line) pays a fee in L to LL.
But that doesn't make money for them. Why? They already got their money, they sold it to you in the first place! The only way they can make money at that stage is to resell the L they've collected. And that can only happen if people are buying L.
So what if no one is buying? Then it sits. It's like a rechargeable battery, it's spent and it's not going anywhere or doing anything.
They collect more L when people cash out, where they gain a tiny profit (i.e. they'll set the buy-back price lower than the original buy-in cost, generating a tiny income).
The important thing is that paying LL in L doesn't help their bottom line. They'd have to resell the L they have on hand to make money off of it. It has the potential to garner them revenue, but by itself it is worthless to LL.
They can't just keep printing L either, or else they'll trigger an ingame inflation. And if they sell too little, the price of a L will skyrocket to the point where no one will want to buy. In other words, they have a very tight rope to walk.
So many people get confused by this because they are looking at the situation from the point of view of the consumer, not the mint. They paid dollars for their L, and when they sell their L they get dollars, so they assume that when they pay LL in L, LL gets those dollars. But that Peter robbing Paul to pay Paul. LL behaves like a mint. Having currency in their vaults is worthless to a mint, they have to recover costs (in LL, this cost is time and employee salaries) so they sell their currency. If you sold your money back to a mint (highly unlikely :) ) then they'd sell it again, because having dollars and cents stacked around isn't making them money. Selling it is.
So everyone claiming that increasing uploading and group fees ingame will generate income for LL is delusional, all it would do is give them an excess of L they'd have to sell, and by definition there is no guarantee they will sell. That's what LL needs. Guaranteed profit, not projected.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
If you encounter a pack of ageplayers, how do you respond?
A) Engage them in polite conversation, and offer friendship to them. After all, they are just human beings like the rest of us and not demon spawn.
B) Abuse Report them mercilessly as you run away, and hope the Lindens vanquish this vile and terrible blot upon Second Life
C) Put your head between your knees and kiss your buttocks goodbye.
The answer will be revealed at the bottom.
Now, we shall proceed to the next of our Great Evils of Second Life, The Griefer.
Figure .1 A Male Common Griefer (Avatarius nunchuckarus minora)
The Griefer can take many a form, but it is most distinguished by its often unusual and flamboyant appearance, varying widely depending upon the subspecies of the observed griefer. Observe Figure 1. Notice that this particular griefer has taken the form of an extremely thin and frail male, with a large 'package' and a massive mane perched atop his head, which houses a pair of chameleon eyes and a slender long nose. This is only a singular example, and each griefer chooses a different form or style depending, again, upon subspecies and local culture.
The griefer is most noted for being the most dangerous of all the Great Evils in existence. They should never be approached, for the slightest gust of breeze or careless comment can set them off into a fearful rage the likes of which few if any have survived. A pack of griefers, commonly called a 'raid', will stalk their range of about four or five connected sims, prowling for one which seems to give offense. Upon finding their hapless prey, the raid zeroes in and proceeds to unleash their unholy power upon the individual, and they divide his flesh amongst themselves. Griefers are amongst the most cleverest of SL's fauna and so can use a large variety of tools to enable them to accomplish their foul tasks.
Figure.2: A Suited Griefer (Avatarius nunchuckarus kryptos) dissolving an avatar into the ground
If all their evil was focused upon their prey, the world would sigh but for relief. But being they are the most vile and evil of Philip's creatures, it is unfortunate that in their hunts they and their tools oft destroy many in the vicinity and sometimes entire grids. Rumours persist of species that in the past were powerful enough to bring the SL world to its knees when hunting and attacking their prey. It is most fortunate that such is the stuff of legends and nothing more!
There is no method of stopping the griefer, no matter the species, once they have engaged in their hunt or assault their prey. Only those most high, a Linden, can manage to take down a raid. Do not trust anyone claiming to be 'SL police' or 'Anti Griefer Mercs', not because such avatars are not to be trusted but because of a recent species (Avatarius nunchuckarus kryptos) that can imitate a normal avatar. If you see a griefer, and you cannot run, then one should be very still, and watch one's words very carefully, for the wrath of a griefer is easily provoked. If one does not respond the griefer or raid will lose interest and usually move on. This is worst case. In all other options, please teleport or run away along with any loved ones. Leave the dragons to the dragon hunters, as they say
Thursday, August 16, 2007
And he went searching for His beloved servant U, who had spurred Nunchuck to great victory, and He could not find him. He searched for ninety turns of the sun. And on the ninety-first day, He found U, his body crushed under the collective weight of a 10X10X5 prim cube textured with brick, a Linden, and a freenis. And mighty and loud was Nunchuck's roar, that His most faithful and bold of servants should meet such a fate in such a time in such a way.
And so it was that Nunchuck once again reached into the fabric of the world as is His right to do so, and pulled U's soul from the purgatory that is AFK, and bound U's spirit into the being and code of everything in the land, that it may all serve Nunchuck as faithfully as its namesake. And thus it was, is, and shall be that U is all, U is one. U is in all of us, and in none of us. U was, is, and will be. And so it was as Nunchuck intended it.
The land was still in devastation, and so Nunchuck took pity and said unto his people, "Behold, for into this world I give unto thee My people a gift to ease their suffering, My Holy and Most Trusted Femur, to protect them in times when I am beholden elsewhere, and guide them to My true path to righteousness in the hope that they may join me in My Kingdom of the Overheavens Vivenshia." And the people received this gift to the Underheavens with grace and much rejoicing, and cheerily accepted the arduous task of rebuilding their world.
It was in this time that the Grievers, formerly The Mightily Guard of Nunchuck, demanded they be elected above all others and that they alone should have sole possession and discretion over the Holy Femur. And so it was that Nunchuck in His Wisdom distracted them by assigning them the great and noble task of keeping the Lindens at bay, to guard the Holy borders that separate the residents and the demigods. Some still foolishly disobeyed His orders, and they was cast with the rest of the chaff into AFK, and these were stripped of their Most Revered title of Griever, for they corrupted their ideals and instead came to call themselves griefers as mere echoes of their former glory.
And so it came to pass that the world was strengthened by this great trial, and Nunchuck retreated to His Kingdom Vivenshia, reminding his people that "should need arise in times of great trial, rest easy in the knowledge that My Femur is among you, and will summon me when all else fails to provide salvation for My Blessed People." With his Grievers away patrolling the heavenly lines of demarcation, He saw the need for a new guardian of the people, ones to watch and protect them from the Great Evils that occasionally roamed the land even in these golden times. Thus was created the Akelhians, spirits to watch His people in His stead, and with this he retreated to Vivenshia with his vow to return in times of despair.
With the struggle between the Overlords of the Underheavens over, the retreat of the Warrior Spirits of the Grievers and Lindens to the heavenly boundaries, and under the care of the Akelhians, the people grew prosperity such as had never been heard of in age past or to come. Generation upon generation came into this Glorious and Golden Age, where prim limits were high and lag was low. Mighty vehicles crossed the land without the hindrance of the sim seams or the attachment-to-pelvis bug, in the form of trains traveling the former Linden tracks and planes crossing the blue skies, blue skies no longer in need of heroes.
The people enjoyed rights and privileges such as had never been know, and with this they begin to grow, in the light of the Holy Femur that symbolized the bond and the promise between the residents and the spirits. And bathed in this eternal and holy light, they grew restful and never knew of want or despair, but instead learned of prosperity and hope. And they never knew hardship, for their guardians the Akelhians protected them and loved them so, and grew with the people so that Nunchuck would not recognise His own Creations, they were intertwined so.
And so this age lasted for nigh on many centuries, and the tales to be told of this era are as numerous as the waters of the ocean and the sands of time, that shall not be recounted here but for want of brevity and desire to not shame the current people with remembrances of what once was.
For there arose an evil spirit in the lands, that was not born of demons, griefers, or Lindens. Nay, it was born in the hearts of avatars, and such was its nature that the Akelhians did overlook this evil that dwell in the hearts of those they loved so and protected without gain. And the name of this evil was Jealousy. Jealous of the power they perceived in both their treasured Covenant, The Holy Femur, and jealous of the power wielded in their name by the Akelhians who knew only love for them in return. Forget they did that such power had caused great pains upon the land, and that it was not to be for The People to desire or obtain such strength. They desired to have such power themselves, such that they may reap greater rewards still than they knew now.
And so, just as the people created Nunchuck in their image and endowed with the power wielded by Philip the First, so they attempted to create Akelhians. The Akelhians, in their naive way, sought to help their flock, never suspecting evil in the hearts of avatars as they did not know evil in their own hearts.
And so the people rallied around their leader, Sipte the Great, who sought to create such a being. But the people had lost the ancient and forbidden knowledge of yore, such that they could not create but an imperfection of the true, and never recreate the glory of their spirits the Akelhians, and their creations would never be imbued with U as they were not created of the World or Nunchuck, but of Avatar's own hands, stained with the sins of Greed, Pride, and Jealousy. And yet, in their blindness of kindness and love still did the Akelhians aid the people in their unholy goal.
And from this, was born the Ony, pale imitations of the light of the spirits of the Akelhians, created from the hands, minds, and bodies of the avatars. For the Ony were Avatars with their coding twisted in an attempt to endow them with the strength and powers of the Spirits. And Sipte looked upon his works, and said it was good.
Thus was ended the Second Golden Age.
Now stare at the SL sun. Notice something?
Yup, totally NOT painful. You can stare at it as it traverses the SL skies and not one rod or cone in your retina will feel the hurt.
And there's never rain, either. Every day is, at most, partly cloudy.
The weather is always beautiful, the skies pure deep blue, the seas always calm and the tide is always in. It's perpetual summer, or if you're in the Snow sims it's perptual winter. The climate is always the same, never changes or experiences devasting storms or hurricanes. Doesn't even vary by the tiniest degree.
It's amusing that in a game where everything from buildings to people can change so rapidly, and yet still be so static.
It's true, in a sense. Something about SL makes time accelerate. Things that would take years can occur within months or even days.
The atmosphere is rapid and constant change.
Two months ago from today, I had black colored Linden eyes, wore heels and a Swiss Miss dress, and generally kept to myself with a few close friends from around when I started, and was a rather lazy but constant builder.
Now, today, I wear a pair of eyes a friend made and gave to me, I wear slippers I copied prim by prim from another friend who left in July, I ditched Swiss Miss for a kimono, and increasingly I find I'm not really building anything. There was a short stint in the past week where I tried a different hair style, but it was annoying and wasn't me, so it didn't stay.
And really, that's only counting physical appearance. Who knows how I've changed mentally and emotionally? Can you measure yourself on those without being subjective? Can you rely on other's assessments on that?
I look at old snapshots I've taken over the nine months since I started, and in the very earliest ones, I can hardly recognise myself. Sometimes the people in them haven't been on for months, probably they quit, yet they live on in SL in my snapshots. The eerie part is that those in my current shots will probably be gone sometime, and then I'll reminisce about them later too, when I know them well know. And I'll also probably look totally differently again. What a cycle!
We don't age in SL. But our appearance, as noted above, does shift and how it shifts can be a good indicator of how old/acclimated one is to SL.
One of the first I noticed was with my good friend Doug. We both towered over residents much older than ourselves, and we came to the conclusion that the taller you were, the longer you had been playing. Why? Because LL, for whatever reason, sets the default avatars to be giants. Obviously, if you spent any time at all ingame, you adjusted your own avatar, and more likely than not, reduced height (unless you intended to role play as an Amazon). It's not always true, of course, but it's common enough to be a reliable guesstimate.
Hair and Skin are another factor. Is this person dedicated enough to buy their own skin/prim hair? If they have it, they aren't likely to be brand new. I'd wager about a few months old at least. The quality itself isn't taken into account, because people being people, have wildly varying tastes. You can only class it very broadly, perhaps obviously cheap looking and not so cheap looking.
Profiles are another clue, albeit obvious via the rez date given on the front page of it. Is their profile filled out? Does it have picks? A photo of themselves inserted? How detailed is it? All this goes a long way to guessing the length of time a person has spent inworld. If they've filled out every cranny, they're probably regulars.
The basic hypothesis we could establish here is that the more detailed or complicated looking the avatar and its profile, the more likely the person has spent significant time inworld.
Notice I specified 'inworld' as opposed to just existing. There are accounts created ages ago that look like they're fresh off the Orientation because they logged in once in 2005, and then didn't log in again until two years later to see if they still have an account. In this case, we can see that despite the appearance of a long life through their rez day, they actually are only two days old in inworld time.
We can easily prove this false, however. Some avatars with much time inworld decide to keep their somewhat noobish appearance, whether out of pride or sloth. I myself did not get a 'unique' skin until about six or seven months into it. I didn't have 'flexi' hair until three weeks ago. And that's just using me as a singular example. There are probably more. So, we should take the above observations as benchmarks, or better yet as guidelines there to help us judge a rough estimate, and not solidly nail down an age.
Speaking of appearances and while we're on this topic, I find it entertaining that my avatar itself is built by committee. Lots of the things I wear I got from somebody as a gift or a token, and I feel like wearing them keeps their memory. I wear earrings made by Hazel, a Daisy made by Vlad/Vladia, eyes by Chaos, Slippers given to me by James, a necklace given via a group to me by either Hazel or Lillibeth, flexi hair that Madison encouraged me to find, a tattoo from a vendor at Pero who I happened to meet one day, and a skin given to me by Jurin in her ungodly large freebie box. There's probably more I'm forgetting about.
And yes, I will admit I'm bragging about this. Whenever at look at my attachments, I think of these people, and how I got to count them as friends.
By the way, this isn't to say that I don't have any other friends, or that people who give me things to wear are less 'special'. Quite the contrary. I'm just noting a fact: most of the things I wear weren't bought by me, they were gifts and just that. I am just commenting on how my very appearance is modified by others, some of whom no longer play.
My appearance changes with every person I meet. My attitude towards SL, among other things, changes as well. They say change, tier, and lag are the only constants in SL.
The only question is, changing into what?
(I apologise for segueing from the abstract of constant change in SL to judging age by appearance. They are connected rather weakly, so if you are lost, don't worry. Chalk it up as another Anna Hallucination.)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I love to listen to people. I try to soften them up by talking a lot, so they don't feel on the spot at a job interview or any such. And once they get started, they have some fascinating stories to tell. They never cease to amaze me. When I think I've heard it all, someone somewhere will add a new twist to the tale. Or their names, and the story of how they came to choose it. Or why they chose the way they appear. Or why they got into the business they run. Or what they're going here in this shop. Variety is truly the spice of life, in SL.
I can already hear the clamor that I'm being far too unrealistic, that I need to be grounded in reality and realize most people are fundamentally alike, all desire the same thing, and are more or less interchangeable. I disagree. That's Stalin's way of looking at the populace. Millions are statistics, one is personal. Folks who claim that everyone is not unique are victims of sweeping generalizations. They need to get down and talk to people occasionally and expand their horizons.
I met a man in a SL rug store a few weeks ago. He was a nice enough person, checking out the small furniture section for low prim chairs. He had started playing about two months ago, after seeing an article in some magazine, and being curious as to how far SL allowed you to take your fantasies. So he downloaded it, bought a 4096 parcel and built his own house with his first crude attempts at texturing. He was rather proud of himself, as he claimed the OI was boring (he indicated he had left it in a hurry) and he didn't seem to find much help with building inworld. He himself expressed a desire to build his own furniture, and seemed to imply that his reasons for being here were more of a scouting of where others have tread. A little daunted by the skill of the established furniture creators, he stated that he was unsure of just how well he would do as a business. And with that, he politely took leave to visit another store, The voice of a single avatar.
And this isn't just a singular case. There was the statue avatar at Bear infohub, made entirely out of circles textured with stone to create the impression of a gigantic stone golem. He topped it off by wearing a pair of sunglasses. He was much more interested in just talking about mundane daily things, like how the weather was or how everyone was doing. Sure, it was a tad blase, but consider this: he was at an infohub, providing newbies with friendly conversation and generally getting them to try out SL before they immediately dismissed it as being 'too hard and unfriendly'. There was a lovely Gor couple that also frequented that infohub, and were humorously formal, addressing everyone as Lady or Lord depending. They would delve into the happenings of their particular role play sim, which seemed to swing from dreadful serious business to unintended comical incidents to accounts of griefers being driven off. They were one of the more liberal Gors out there, openly acknowledging that their life style had significant faults and was highly susceptible to being taken to extremes by fundamentalists.
And this is just a small sample of my experiences, which of themselves are a smaller sample of the overall SL world (with 8+ million accounts, and probably ball park estimate of 300,000 active users, with 44,000 online at any given time). That's 300,000 stories out there, walking around.
I give credit to the SLInsider (and I think the Herald does this too on occasion) for showcasing each resident once a week or so. My only qualm is they turn it more into an interview than an actual portrait of the resident. They ask the same repetitive questions over and over again, and some of these questions are truly silly and really should be thrown out with the garbage. Questions like (example?). I suppose I'm being too harsh, as they operate on a deadline and need the facts fast and simple. Long and exhausting stories have no place in such an environment. As well they shouldn't. I don't read either of those blogs to gain comprehensive knowledge of residents, I read them because they deliver the news (although the Second Life Herald, with its increasing forays into advice columns and tabloid-esque 'stories' and seemingly back to back op/ed pieces, is losing my interest). Hmm, reading this paragraph, I seem to be contradictory.
Let me settle this into a simple abstract then. I applaud that they are trying to bring residents and their lives to the forefront, because that's SL. It's not builds, scripts, or events. It's people, plain and simple. Let me be the first to pat them on the back for this effort. But all the same, they could handle it a little better, more like a tale (but not a saga) and less like they are interviewing a prospective employee. I believe that sums it up nicely.
So, on that note, and with this outlook, I think I will try to add another series here that will focus on such things. No one else appears to want to cover this as deeply as I seem to, so I will take initiative here and fill that niche. I will, however, do this with the express consent of the subject, and if they don't want to be featured, then I'll delete the article I wrote and then burn the hard drive with acid. If they want something censored, then I will. If they tell me something 'off the record' then I'm not going to publish. Other than these scruples, however, I will try to deliver my portrait of the resident.
Because SL isn't the sum of its code. It's the sum of its people.
Here is my reasoning: You buy and pay for the full contents of the drink. Say it was a dollar for a bottle of Coke. That's one dollar you bled for 20 Fl Oz, 1.25 pints, or 591 mL of soft drink. I prefer metric. That's 5.91 mL per cent. 591 mL per dollar. Got that? Good.
Now, suppose you drink that Coke. You drink it, and then you go to throw it away. Before you do, notice something at the bottom? Is that... some left over? Why yes, indeed, you did not drink it all! "Aha, Anna, I have caught your trick! But it's solved if I just drink that little bit left, right? Then I'd really have drunk a dollar of soda." Wrong. Try it. Take a look. Still some there! "Okay then, then I'll just drink a little more!" Here is where I must stop you, my friend, for you will never ever practically drink it all.
No matter how hard you try, you will never get the remaining soda. It will be so little that it'll cling to that bottom, mostly because at that point the level of attraction of the soda drop for the bottom of the bottle is greater than the force of gravity or the suction you can try to generate in the bottle. It's not coming down, in other words. In addition, there are likely microscopic molecules of your soft drink embedded in the bottle, where again the attraction between those molecules is greater than anything you can do.
However, this comes with a caveat. Notice I said practically impossible. There are ways you could get every drop. For example, you could fill the bottle with water to flush out the remaining soft drink, and you wouldn't have to worry about the water remaining. However, we want to get our money's worth, and filling said bottle with water will run you up a water bill. So it widens the gap between what you paid for and what you got, since with adding water you are adding to the cost of buying the soda in the first place.
You could also cut the bottle in half and lick the sides dry. The issue with this solution is that it's not practical to cut every bottle in half after you've mostly emptied it. Doing this in public may also elicit some stares and questions concerning your mental stability. It may also be illegal, especially if knives and scissors are banned/moderated where you are (where I work they have exactly one pair of scissors, under the auspices that they are a deadly weapon).
That leaves us with the question of how much do you get for your money? This is all important as it decides whether or not our concerns of being cheated out of our fair share are valid. By simple optical observation, we know the percentage of soda drunk is well above 85%. I would venture it can safely be assumed to be above 95%. So let us image a worst case scenario where you only drink 95% and the rest cannot be reached. You lose 5% of the soda you paid for. You lose a whole 29.55 mL (that sounds like and is a lot, but remember we high rolled it to assume the worst). That means you drank 561.45 mL of soda when you paid for 591 mL. Where you should have only paid 95 cents, you paid a whole dollar. You lose 5 cents of valuable soft drink!
Now, we have to ask ourselves: is 5 cents really worth worrying about? Would I notice or care if I lost at most 5 cents whenever I drank something I paid for? The logical answer is no, I would not care or worry. I would not even notice save for the fact that I am staring at an empty water bottle on my desk at work right now with drops of water still in it. It stays constant as well, in that if I paid for more bottles of soda, I would still only lose at most 2-3% of what I paid for, which might be 30-40 cents if I bought a truckload of soda (it would come out to 472800 mL at 591 mL/$1, or about 800 bottles). Since I never reasonably and in sound mind buy more than one bottle per day, over the course of a year I only lose $18.25 out of $365 dollars spent on theoretical soda.
Let's put a different twist on it: Let's say that the overcharge is a kind of tip. To whom does this tip go towards? The vendor is the logical answer. He paid for an entire bottle of soda, and he sold an entire bottle of soda so he... wait, he doesn't get anything out of this! He come out the same as if you drank the whole thing. The vendor does not notice anything at all. He can't add or subtract the amount of soda he receives and sells, therefore he does not gain anything from your loss. By extension, Coca-Cola Inc. does not get 'tipped' either, by the same logic: the vendor paid for their goods, and so whatever the company makes off of you isn't directly from you, but indirectly received from you via the vendor who uses your purchase to purchase more soda. Confused? Just keep in mind that no one is benefiting you not getting all the soda you paid for.
So we established that no one gains, you just lose out. We determined that you don't mind losing less than 5 cents on any given soda bottle you pay for, and since the vendor and producer don't come out ahead or behind they have no incentive to do anything about it. Everyone loses or doesn't care!
It's a non-problem in a pointless thought experiment while dilly-dallying at work.
They may tell you they spend months, years even, in advance planning their moves and policies, but to be dreadfully honest one can't really tell that from the outside looking in. To most, myself included, it's not unlike riding a roller coaster in the dead of night. You can only pray that the tiny sensations of gravity and centripedal forces and the sound of the wind can alert you to the loops and dips that are surely coming. The problem is that you can't always be certain you're interpreting it correctly. You could be falling prey to delusion or miss sleights of hand. The tea leaves ain't going to tell you nothing concerning the Lindens.
Normally, if the Lindens were any other resident or friend, it would be at most worrisome. If they were even the slightest bit transparent or restarted town halls, this would be a non-issue. But they are not residents, they're our Overlords. And they are not transparent, they erect lots of smoke and mirrors on any given controversial issue imaginable. I understand that such issues will never be discussed openly by the company or its employees for obvious reasons. That shouldn't dissuade them from at least alerting us to what they are potentially investigating. At least grant us the tiniest of tiny head's up on these things.
I'm not talking about new features. I'm talking about their social policies, the ones stating "no more gambling" and "no more ageplay". Both were practically introduced overnight, with little if any discussion upon the topic at all. Sure, there were grumblings of potential investigations by the US or Germany, but we really didn't hear from the Lab that anything was being considered, in fact I am dead certain the Gambling ban was instituted overnight and the explanation (Heavy US online gambling regulations) was almost an afterthought, added when the casinos were in an uproar.
And really, that is the crux of this matter. They don't seem to realize that their every word and non-word can quite rapidly change the world within hours. Because they are never entirely forthright concerning future policies, people have their own "Linden" antenna of sorts, finely tuned to the slightest changes in the signal from Linden Lab. Thus, even when they don't comment on a subject, people interpret that as possibly having some bearing. "Why aren't they commenting on this subject? They must be reviewing it!"
Now, here comes the major problem: what if people drastically alter the world in response to a perceived indication of action from the Lindens? Let's say someone asks Philip if they're considering sponsoring an official Linden band. Philip laughs it off, but does not definitively state anything on the matter. Inworld bands and musicians could take up arms, especially if they believe the Linden band would host concerts for free. Others would leave, cashing out since there is no way they could compete with a non profit, Linden sponsored concert. Many would reason that in such a world, only the very best of the best musicians could survive against such a thing. A few days later, I could reasonably see a dip in the economy as the bands pull out their dollars.
Another scenario: Some nutball suggests that the Lindens institute ghettos for the non-paying residents, who would not be allowed to leave their designated areas. The Lindens chose to ignore it. Residents, having seen that they neither commented nor disapproved of this idea, would come to the conclusion that either this particular idea is in the works, is being seriously considered, or that it will be a non-issue because of other immediate changes in the pipes. And people would act on these instincts. People would either register or quit. The population of recurring Unverified would most likely plummet. One can't rule out the hypothesis that the number could also sky rocket as people create Unverified alts in protest.
I believe this illustrates the Lindens' greatest fault, and causes needless hassle and induced ulcers. People take hedonistic outlooks in SL because you can't be sure if tomorrow will break the world, your inworld business, or drive off your inworld friends; better to live it up today while we can than to regret it later when it could be wiped off the face of the earth by a careless Linden remark.
They need to realize that they aren't just residents (I suspect at least some do, and create alts so residents won't run with their every word), they're our Overlords. If they're going to act as they are, then they can't react with surprise when residents overreact or revolt (as they did way way back with the silly prim taxes, or with the telehubs and their malls, or copybot, or with ageplay/gambling recently, and what will likely happen with age verification).
The Ls need to realize they can't be our friends. They can't be casual about themselves.
They're our overlords. They should start acting the part.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
In the Beginning, there was Philip Linden. A deity from the far off land of San Fransissko in a greater universe than ours, he entered a void where time was unknown and silence held lease.
And he raised his hands, and from the void came forth the lands and the seas. And he blew his breath across the scape, and trees and plants bloomed in its wake. And he looked upon his works, and he called it Second Life, in memory of the universe he had left. He desired for others to enjoy his good works, and so he reached into the very fabric of the mesh that forms all things in Second Life, and molded it into his own image, and thus the avatar was born.
Philip loved his avatar so much, he created more for company, and soon the land was awash in avatars, forming villages across the land. They began building halls and towers, and bridges and roads. Philip soon found it exhausting to follow his children, and so he once again reached into the fabric of the world and created the Lindens, to follow and watch over his children, and to aid them in creating a pure and beautiful world. And heeding his instruction, the Lindens flew across the vastness.
And Philip surveyed his creations, his lands, his avatars, his Lindens, and the perfect balance of order and harmony he had created, and rested in his multi-coloured pants, and said it was Good. And it was, for 400 SL years all was well.
Some looked upon this beauty, and despised it. They were called the Outcasts, The Unblessed, The Undesireds. They were born from those the Lindens had deemed unfit, useless, or harmful to the villages and communities, and they were banished to the far corners of Second Life, far from Philip's benevolence and His Golden Age of Prosperity. They were forced to eke a living from the barren earth of their wastes, forever sentenced to looking at a paradise just beyond their reach. And their children grew with this hatred, and their children's children also, for many a generation.
And so it was that one day, they drew into the evil arts of that age, the forbidden arts that encroached on the very powers of Philip, and they reached deep and far into the mesh of the world to create their own god. On that day, the skies grew dark and the moon vanished, the air grew hot and humid, and the birds and animals fell silent, and the Lindens themselves were astir with the sense that something terrible and great was to occur.
And thus, Nunchuck was born, with all His Unholy powers, having been created from the very fabric of the world Philip made, and with all the powers that entailed. And the Outcasts cheered, for their had created their Saviour.
Nunchuck observed his lands, and raised for His people mighty fortress and arcologies, and fertile lands for building. He shook His mightly femur, embued with the wrath and suffering of thousands of Outcasts, and obliterated the barriers between Philip's Chosen and Nunchuck's People. He began to systematically slaughter those who had oppressed His people, and not even the Lindens could tame his wrath.
Philip knew that Nunchuck's Great Power was unholy, and a match even for his. So he sneezed upon his Lindens, and they were granted extraordinary powers with which to battle the Great Evil that is Nunchuck. They scarred the land with their battles and skirmishes, and the avatars of both cried out for an end and for a peace but Philip and Nunchuck were deaf to their pleas. And Nunchuck, having witnessed the greatness of the Lindens, reached into the fiber of His People's being and contorted their souls into shadows of the Lindens themselves, and Nunchuck called His creations His grievers. They swarmed across Second Life bringing havoc and misery to all in their path.
And for many a month, the Grievers and the Lindens did battle, night and day. And as they waged, millions perished as they destroyed countless habitations and common areas. Neither was willing to yield to the other, and many met their fates upon the wastes created by their rages. And there was much sadness and ugliness.
And one moon, under which Nunchuck was resting his mightly forces, a humble Outcast, badly scarred from the past year of eternal war between these Gods, came before Nunchuck in a show of daring and pretensiousness. This nobody was named U, and he pleaded to Nunchuck to spare His people, for they had had enough of war and wanted to make peace with Philip and his People, so that both may piece together their shattered world. U asked only for others, since his own family had been slaughtered mercilessly at the hands of a Griever berserk with the rush of having killed a Linden. U asked his wish solely for Nunchuck's and Philip's People, that they may have happiness that he now will never know.
Nunchuck, at first enraged by this affront to His Godness, saw the truth of U's words. He saw His people needed peace, and the Lindens would not stop.
And so Nunchuck went and engaged Philip in battle. Fighting past three Guard Lindens, He blasted down the doors of the Mighty Philip Linden Temple, and challenged Philip to one final duel, the winner of which would become the most high and mighty of gods, and forever cement his rule as Overlord of the Underheavens.
And so Philip and Nunchuck clashed, and their battle beheld more terrible woes upon the people than ever before. Every parry tore the fibre of the world, every blow wiped whole sims off the face of the universe. In places they disrupted time and caused destruction on a level untold of. They did this for three days and nights, and on the third night both retired to rest, and they beheld the results of their rage. And their hearts did melt before the sufferings of their people and the sins of doings.
And so Philip proposed a truce: That they both work together, to enhance the happiness of their people, and acknowledge the sins they had both wrought upon the land. He offered a desire to work together to create a better world.
Nunchuck considered this, and asked that Philip give him four days to come to decision, after which He would accept or offer additions to this idea. Philip, being good and assuming good faith, accepted Nunchuck's wish.
And as Philip turned to walk back to his people and Lindens, Nunchuck drew his mightly femur and stabbed him straight through Philip's head. And Philip fell, and his body became immersed into the land he loved so. Thus, Nunchuck finally won this great and terrible war.
And we shall rest our eyes here, and let what followed this great tragedy for another story.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
With death, you die and that's it. Highly likely it will be painful and unpleasant, but when it's done it's done, and either you just cease to exist or you head on up to the thereafter. Or the down under, depending on your personal beliefs and Gods. And that's the end of that. Once you're dead, you don't have to deal with the aftershocks. It's much more painful for the survivors, certainly.
Being forgotten can be like living death. This person who used to know you well enough now doesn't even acknowledge you existed? The truth washes over you like a rainstorm, and you feel frustrated and lonely. It's a death you have to deal with, you essentially died in that other person's mind, you ceased to be.
Yet, you still exist, and you know you exist, and you know that you knew this person. You're sure of it. How could they forget you?! Outrageous! That's the hardest blow. There is a small voice in the backstage saying, "You couldn't have been that important to be forgotten". You can't get rid of it, because if you're forgotten then your former friend cannot tell you if you actually mattered to them or not. But if you did matter and were important, then they'd remember, right?
Being forgotten reverses roles in death. Others aren't pained by the death of you in their minds, they don't even know you existed. But you feel it, it's heartbreaking to you. For them, once they've put you out of mind, that's it, it's done and there is nothing else to it. You spend the rest of your days wallowing in the knowledge that someone who used to be close is now a stranger, and while they carry it, you really can't because you DO remember, and that just burns a nice little hole into your mind.
The larger the amount of people, the worse it gets. With one, you can shrug it off. "Eh, just one loser. Probably wasn't that great a friend anyway", you'll reason. But two? Three? A dozen? Four score? Eventually, the little holes add up. It'll tear you apart, and what's left will be a shell of yourself. Nothing more than a shadow of a person no one cares about, remembers, or even acknowledges. A shadow in a world of shadows.
Or you can seal yourself off. People can't forget what they never knew, right? All you need is you, and with that you'll figure nothing else matters. It won't hurt when people don't recall seeing you, because you've already planned ahead that they won't recall in the first place and that they'll never see you again to burn a hole in your soul again. You become a shadow by choice, a wanderer that comes and goes, and rarely if ever meets the same person twice. You're free in all respects. No one is tying you down. No one is there to hurt you, or prevent you from doing what you want when you want.
Except that not really living, is it? There is no challenge. No one to object to you, provide constructive criticism, provide light on different subjects. On the other side of the token, there's no sense of being needed and appreciated, of being loved, no one to share anything with, no one to help you grow and develop and shed light on areas you never knew you excelled in. Being a lonely wanderer, you're just a battery, charged with potential that will never be tapped, and you'll last a long long time but never unleash that potential. Being together is like being plugged into flashlight, where you work together to create something with entirely different parts, but you burn out far far faster than the lone battery. And in either case, you'll eventually explode alkaline everywhere. So which is better?
Which is better? Being cut into a statue, destined to become a masterpiece but erode far faster than normal, or being hidden under the crust for eons, never venturing beyond your quarry, never forming anything? They both erode eventually. Will the statue remain at the forefront? It might fall out of favour, either due to style or the sheer number of artworks out there, then be filed away in some museum's basement and notable only in the footnotes of a textbook. The plain stone obviously lasts much longer, but it's faceless, never notable or remembered, and when it's gone it's only a footnote inasmuch as it provided a surface to stand on, and nothing more if that.
And now we enter the Internet. What constitutes death online? Obviously a notice from relatives that "laggerd66lulz Stravinsky" finally lost out to the tumor in his pancreas that metastasised does, but what about something more subtle? What would you think if I didn't log on for a week with no prior notice of what I'm doing? How about a month? A year? At what point would you give up that someone is 'internet dead'? Do you just forget them instead? Let them fade away, they don't seem to be coming back, and you try to keep up and remember them, but there's so much else for you to do, and time is so short...
Would it be easier on you if I violated some preplanned event? If I said I was going to go on vacation for a week, and then the week passes and I still never log on, that doesn't send a good message. What if I said I was definitely going to meet you at a concert on Saturday, and then never log in? How long would you miss me, before I fade out from center stage? And then what if I came back, and the reason for my absence was simply Real Life serious business? If you've forgotten me by then, would it be virtual murder and rebirth? Would we be a virtual Christ in that regard? How long would it take to jog your memory, and would I ever be really the same as I originally was in your mind? You can't know if you forgot, your baseline for such a comparison is deleted.
Every time you meet someone, you create a new you. People don't really know you, they know the version of you they created in their mind. Thus, there is an Anna in Jurin's mind, an Anna in Silver's mind, an Anna in James' mind, an Anna in Hazel's mind, an Anna in Chaos' mind, an Anna in Madison's mind, an Anna in Scope's mind, an Anna in Philip's mind, an Anna in Nalin's mind, an Anna in Avi's mind, an Anna in Doug's mind, an Anna in Solta's mind, an Anna in Vanya's mind, and many many more. All are me, but they're not me. They are all versions of me as perceived by them. Each is unique and yet they all share a common template. I myself am really half a person, the other half is the me who resides in the minds of others. I'm the sum total of what you think of me plus what I actually am.
Now, if you forget me, is that killing the me residing in your mind? Do I die a little death? There are degrees to oblivion. The farther along you are towards erasing me, the more shattered the me in your mind will be. I suppose then it is not a question of dead or not, but one more along the lines of how corrupted can your Anna get before it's irreparable. How far can you strain it, can you distort it, can you chisel it and shatter it, can you tease and contort it before it's no longer me or no longer anything?
Forgive me for writing this as if I am the victim. I am implying no such thing. I am no saint, I am a human being of course, so the question can be asked of me of how long I can do such things to the friends residing in my mind. How many of those are dead, shattered, twisted, or abandoned? I am sorry to admit that the number is not a small one. Of my friends list, a large percentage are never on and of those remaining few I converse regularly with maybe five or six. I would like to point out that SL is a cycle of sorts, and when I'm on can affect who I am talking to. In addition, those who have become my close friends I have never forgotten. Sure, it's a little in the distance so to speak and a bit foggy, but there's no way I could possibly forget the GreatMoo or Mahala or Chrome. I can distinctly remember each one of them (in fact, I did meet up with Chrome a week ago, but after I had written this post as a draft). When and if ever James logs back in again (as some say he will, and I say the sooner the better considering the turn SL has taken recently. He'd probably fix it in a few weeks) for that one instant I'd never know he hasn't been on in a month.
And really, that's the best part of remembrance. That instant flash you get, when you see and hear the person, and your mind leaps in joy that yes, you do know this person and much fun is about to happen. And for the brief time together, you forget you even forgot! You don't even pay it much heed if at all! It's just the here and the now, and tomorrow is too far away to care about and yesterday is yesterday's news. It's not foggy memories of days yore, it's vivid images and feelings and sensations directly at you now.
But in between, that fogginess? Is that due to the lack of contact, or to the beginning of deletion? Maybe the mind is like a VCR tape. The original recording is crisp and clear and there's no static or fuzz and you feel there. After a few thousand plays, it starts degrading, falling apart, and you can't fix it unless you get a new tape. The longer you delay getting the tape, the more interference you have, until what you're actually watching isn't what it was originally, and you may forget what the original was like or was about. When you get that new tape of the same thing, you feel like you've reset somehow, that this wasn't what you had originally. The degradation becomes the original, and the original is lost. And just as there's many types of people, there's many qualities of tapes, which to be fair the person has no control over. You're born with the tapes you got. And you have to work with them the best you can.
Much of what we do depends upon memory. You memorise what you need to succeed at work and at school, you memorise close friends and relatives, you memorise that you drive on the right, that 58th and Vine is not a nice place at night, that you can't be publicly nude, that robbing a bank is not a bright idea, that you have cereal for breakfast and like a hot cup of tea before dinner. There is no instinct, it's all what you have set to memory. So, is it really that bad if someone forgets? With everything else they have to commit to memory, do they really need to know you? Would you rather they miss a train and be late for lack of memory of the schedule or they take a few minutes to recall their splintered memory of you?
Even pain, though not pleasant or easily forgotten, fades with the rest of your memories. Pained by a good friend not remembering you? Ah, let it be, and it too will fade along with your memory of them. And then they'll both be shadows to you, and you to them, in a perverse equivalent exchange. Mutually Assured Destruction.
I will conclude with one final thought.
If indeed we do store version of people we meet in our minds, that are killed by forgetting them, then every day all around the world trillions die each day in what would be the greatest holocaust yet.
And that's terrible.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
The guy was new.
You could tell. He took it personal, made it emotional. He was bawling his eyes out, apologizing profusely. He was neglecting his other commitments.
A vet would be cold, emotionless. A vet had seen it all, and learned that these things happen, not to get too attached. And then you move on, like life. And you never apologise. You have done nothing wrong.
The wife and daughter came first, the curtain drawn around them. You couldn't hear them, that was the worst. The loud ones were preferred, the ones that announced their feelings to the whole ward. The quiet ones, they tore you up. For a vet, it was easy with time to distance one's self, but for the quiet ones this was personal. It was almost un natural(SP?) , and either a sign of inner strength or estrangment (SP?).
The mother came. Now she was a wailer. Her screams echoed along the corridors, as she was gently guided by her children. Now this, this was good. This screeching was common, you could block it out, it drowned out all else. No awkward silences. Blissful noise fillng each creavce (SP?).
They held a vigil. They always do that. So pointless, it's just a shell. It won't hear or care, it's beyond that now. But they always do that. They all become quiet and solemnly say meaningless nothings to something that cannot care. Because it was a something, not a someone anymore.
And then they file out, to their homes, and continue the process, of which one is not a part. One just carries on, to the next. Within a week, if that, it's someone else and last week's trials are forgotten.
A vet just lives day to day. Weeks are immeasureably long, who cares what happened a week ago? But this guy, he cared. He remembered. He probably went with the family after shift, consoling them. It was probably his first. Those are never easy, it is a rite of fire for most. But this guy, he was taking it harder than most.
You could tell.
The guy was new.
I came to this conclusion a few nights ago, at an event where one was to talk about 'Good and Evil'. The first warning flag rose when I received a note card outlining specific points on this topic. A topic like this should be a free flowing beast, and to shove an outline like this upon participants is akin to chaining down a bicycle you bought for your children. It stifles any freedom of thought that is necessary for this. Not to mention the note card was already biased, with the host's 'answers' to each point in the discussion. Hello Group think. Care to guess how many disagreed with the host? How many raised any points outside of this initial note card?
The second warning flag came when they attempted to define what good and evil are. Their concept of a 'gray area' was awfully naive and consisted of rather simplistic thought experiments such as 'If I rez a house that my neighbor finds ugly, do I take it down?' or 'If I am busy, is it rude to those trying to IM me?'. I'm no advocate for moral equivalence, but one has to concede that nothing is on a concrete good/evil scale, and that the 'gray area' is large and largely dependent upon point of view and social values and mores. Sure, some things can easily be seen as set at one definite end of the spectrum, but I'd hazard that 80% of the rest is mostly subjective.
Take Prokofy Neva and this Ginko Financial issue for an example. He considers it high treason to SL that Benjamin Noble sees Ginko Financial as a giant Ponzi scheme. Prokofy wants to support native SL institutions, and doesn't approve of outsiders coming in and applying RL views and laws to what is clearly a whole new world, and feels that such actions will destroy what we have. He also perceives that Ben is something of a stalker, set on pushing his lawyer-y views.
Ben considers Prokofy highly uninformed, and almost criminal in that Prokofy is advocating what amounts to a criminal con scheme. He wishes to apply RL laws and associations into SL as a means to bring stability onto the grid. He sees Prokofy as a blowhard of sorts, someone lacking in the proper education and wisdom to see as he sees. He also views Prokofy as someone who will lead people to ruin by advocating practices and businesses which are doomed to failure.
There we have two opinions clashing with the other, a battle of titans. Is either right? Both raise extremely good and well thought out points. Which one is evil? Both would have you believe it is the other. This is just one example, I can provide countless others where this discussion's definition of good/evil is hopelessly flawed and lacking.
Other discussions have cheesed me off to degrees. One on the acceptance of entering SL (what?), another on whether avatar appearance affects one's trust of them. The latter really steamed me, as I can hardly imagine appearance matters at all in trusting someone in SL, it really boils down to behavioural patterns and previous experiences with someone. Most people can size a person up within the ten to twenty minutes they introduce themselves to each other and chat up a bit. Appearance appears to matter little from my observations of how people interact, it's assumed by most that they WILL encounter strange and unique forms, starting with the fox/human one can choose as a starting avatar on the sign-up page. Scope nailed it laconically with one sentence: "I have many friends of all sorts that I'm friends with, how they looked didn't seem to matter" (something along those lines, I didn't save the exact quote). God bless him, he destroyed their argument with a single sentence. Their reaction? Carrying on as if nothing happened, and the accounts of multiple avatars (me, Scope, and a few others) are but grains of rice against the wind of consensus that APPEARANCE MUST HAVE AN IMPACT!
Thus, to save myself from further anxiety, I will adhere to the following rules concerning such discussions:
1) I'm not attending any more philosophical discussion. Period. Regardless of whatever you think, I find them pointless and usually boring, rarely discussing anything relevant to anybody, and covering topics I could find in high school textbooks on the subject. I harbor no interest in this.
Amendment to Rule 1) If you invite me to such an event, I will attend, but do not expect me to participate. I'll observe, keep company, and give my opinion if you press me on it, but that's about it. I don't feel I will have anything to add to these kinds of discussions.
2) Discussions I will attend will be ones on more relevant issues in SL, concerning say griefers or the shaping of the SL world. Topics that can be grounded in something useful, and not 'pie in the sky on Cloud Cuckoo Land Nine' discussions on "Can your avatar feel pain and love?".
3) If I find the discussion to approach revolting or absurdity, I will politely excuse myself. I don't gain entertainment in watching either a side show, especially one posing as a 'discussion of serious business'.
I believe these three rules will ease my aggravation in these types of events considerably. Of course, we can't forget the all important fourth rule:
4) The above rules are subject to being ignored most of the time at the discretion of the rule maker.