Sunday, September 30, 2007

Persephone Applemoor

Persephone Applemoor is a new resident, who started about a week or two ago.

Perse is, for a new resident, unusually adaptive to Second Life, more so than the usual bunch that pass through the Welcome Areas. Part of that is because she is an immigrant from The Sims Online, so the culture shock and learning curve for her is not too steep.

When I met her, she was concerned that her SL client might be glitched or broken, she couldn't teleport. I reassured her that this was a common enough problem, and that a relog would probably clear it up.

She was adorable in a certain way, thinking that a job in Second Life would be similar to getting a job in real life, with actual doctors and hospitals. I sadly informed her that such things are at best role play, but if she was into that, then there are many areas where you can find such things. She just wanted to earn money to buy clothes and things, things that she saw everyone else (save the newbies) had.

She seemed fascinated by the idea that people from all over the planet log into Second Life, that you could be conversing with people from China or Germany. One wonders what her Sims Online experience must have been like. I've never played it, so I don't know whether everything was segregated off or what. In any event, it seemed to overwhelm her.

Griefing entertained her, after all it's all in good fun. If the worst is a screaming ninja turtle cube, then it's pretty tame compared to real life, right? What is all the fuss about? And I can see her point. Griefing is like a natural disaster and a theme park ride rolled into one. It adds variety to an otherwise blase day-to-day existence in SL. It becomes something of an ice breaker when meeting someone else: "Some griefing that just happened the other day, right? LAWL cubes all over my lawn." I can see weather reports of SL: "Today we have a high of 34 fps. Mostly smooth with intermittent lag. Tropical Griefer "asswipe Oh" is setting up off the coast of Yuri, it seems to be taking a turn to the southeast and may hit the Russia sims sometime next week."

She seemed very curious. Which is a good thing, in this world of ours. Staying in one place too long becomes mundane, wears people down. They demand change. Flux and searching for the next big things keeps SL humming along, and in this case Perse will excel, I can feel it.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shanghai Sling

Prok has been raising hell about handing Chinese dissidents in Sl over to the Chinese authorities. Let's examine this!

First, we have to consider that in SL, I highly doubt that a Chinese dissident will run around openly broadcasting his/her dissension. More likely, it will be an underground movement through SL, perhaps with a public face but with most of it hidden from view.

Consider that first we have to make sure that the prospective dissident is, in fact, in China. Remember, we're not stifling opposition to China, we're rounding up opposers living in China. China, like everything else in there, heavily monitors its internet traffic, enough that Wikipedia has a policy where you are allowed to use anonymizers (you're normally banned for using one).
So, we have to cut through their web of proxies first. Meaning that China would be asking LL to do a job that they obviously haven't cracked yet, since they're asking LL to do it. If they were in a position to crack down on dissenters themselves, they'd do so and avoid the publicity of asking LL (risking exposing themselves to SL's notoriously anal, responsive, and loud world).

They risk, however, a 'Spartacus' movement, where a bunch of people will claim to also be in China, or using proxies that label them as in China, in order to defend their dissident friends (which I'm sure they will have). LL would be flooded with processing whether these people are telling the truth or not, if you think they wouldn't be, well just take a look at their current procedures for everything else, their wonderful implementation of grey goo griefer fences being the most notable.

And that's just trying to pin down an IP address, which I'm sure would pin point a very public internet cafe or city wide network and thus be unable to be shut down without severely pissing off the population. Let's say for the ease and avoidance of such a scenario, China asks for some names. Uh oh.

For while it's against the TOS to give false information when creating an account or providing billing info, in practice the Lindens only enforce this in matters where they've been directly defrauded or risk a lawsuit (credit card theft, let's say, freezing the 'stolen' account). Because in practice you'd have to hunt down 600,000 or so users who gave addresses as '123 Fake Street' or listed their last name as 'BiteMe'. And I highly doubt Mr. BiteMe lives at 123 Fake Street in Shanghai.

Okay then, just ban the accounts, right? That'll kill two birds with one stone: no need to turn over people to Chinese authorities, and no need to deal with the pesky dissenters causing the ruckus in the first place! Wonderful compromise! Except, we can make free alts on brand new accounts. You'd have the same problem we have with griefers now: How do we build a wall of China that lets people in freely while blocking out the Huns? In SL, you can't. The Lindens have been trying for years now with this problem on griefers, and now if they do it with dissidents as Prokofy suggests, they'd only exacerbate the problem.

What will end up happening is that LL may fool China for a few months, maybe a year, if China ever presses them on it, which may happen as did with Google. Eventually, China will realize the Lindens are giving them the run-around, and will likely just close off all access to Second life. So what? I can hear you saying. Well, imagine if the entire state of California was booted out of SL. That's what. An increasingly significant portion of our population is Chinese, a portion we just can't throw out with the bathwater. I'm not a fan of slippery slope arguments, but this easily could be taken as a precedent as well, as other countries may attempt to pull something similar (imagine if the Dutch had done so while investigating or prosecuting SL).

The point is, that this may be a pointed topic at LL. They do not have the power to rat out the dissidents. Any discussion of this must realize this fact. It is unavoidable, and central to it as with the griefer issue. Because of the way SL is set up and run, neither will be able to be blocked or traced through Second Life.

So, we have to theorize what will happen in the crystal ball. We could always assume that China will ignore SL, and promote HiPhiHi and attempt to force that to its will. That still leaves the elephant in the room, however. We're trying to control and stop these dissidents, not shove them into the outside world and get eggs on our faces, right?

LL could try to bluff their way out of it. Make a few examples of some, threaten the rest. It worked with ageplayers to varying degrees, and didn't stop the griefers at all. The likelihood of it working now is about the same chance as a chasm in Wisconsin opening up and creating a stairway directly to Hell, on which Elvis will climb and return. That is to say, zero.
And of course we've discussed the 'China just bans SL from every point in its hemisphere' option that will likely occur.

So what have the Lindens been discussing on this impending issue? Any group huddles, or at least long range plans? Let's listen into a recent Robin Linden office meeting where she commented on the subject ( in response to one resident's question on what LL would do if China did come a knockin'):

Robin Linden: The problem is ... that I believe those situations will have to be dealt with as they come up.

Robin Linden: I don't think we can make a blanket statement about how we would address such a request.

Robin Linden: It would depend on what they ask for, and who asks for it.

Robin Linden: You guys, it's not about free speech. Just courtesy.

Robin Linden: Honestly? Talked about what we would do SHOULD the chinese government come calling?

Listen to Robin's words. Read them again. Not about free speech? Courtesy? Haven't thought or talked about this yet? It reminds me of checking one's balance when you know you used the ol' credit cards a bit too often. On a good day, you open the envelope and you take what comes. On a bad day, you leave it on the desk, and it just sits and sits. The Lindens are treating RL governmental intrusions into SL as bad credit. They know they'll have to do something about it, and they've had a few close shaves before, but they're not really prepared when the repo depot rolls up their driveway.

I find this a tad scary.

The Dramha!

I visited Bear for the first time in a long while (perhaps two months?), and immediately entered a controversy! Score for Second Life Dramha!

And this was what got everyone over at my old haunt hot and bothered: Someone threatened that they'd get Lindens to break up the Bear crowd because it's too crowded. Conveniently, newbies unable to funnel into Bear due to such a cap would go to that someone's friend's welcome area. This was so serious it made Ryan Radio reasonable! C'mon, that's a major red flag right there!

AT least, that's what I pulled from it. There was a forum link, but I'm not permitted onto them. That's the gist of what I picked up, debating over whether Bear and any infohub should have a cap on visitors so that the others in the sim can enjoy their land.

The complainer couldn't understand why local businesses were upset (obviously, he understood why the Bear regs would be upset, you're smashing their hangout). He thought by limiting the traffic at the infohub, it'd allow more people to funnel into local businesses. And who cares if his friend's infohub/store got some traffic? Newbies don't land in SL with cash, you know! They'll just leave and never come back!

That last argument had Bear stumped, it seems. Even Ryan was fairly convinced, because they don't land with cash. They can't buy anything. So really, whether they land here, there, or on the moon, it's moot. They won't buy anything from you if they got nothing to spend, so don't worry your heads about who handles the waves from Orientation Island.

And that's when I came in. And I heard this, and I realized something. I said, "Sure, they may not land with cash. But they'll remember the stores around where they started, and they'll return with cash. That's why infohub stores tend to do well."

And everyone just sat there stunned for a bit. Because word of mouth is big in SL. As I stated, stores near Infohubs do better than stores in the middle of nowhere. The people come in, they see the shop set up nearby with reasonable prices (around L$1-100, pretty cheap), and they go off to find jobs or money to buy things. And when they do earn the cash (either earning it or just pouring some dollars into the game) they come back. They remember. Big brand names usually don't reach the majority of the new population who don't quite understand how to work the search, or haven't heard of Talisman Designs.

This is why commercialized orientation islands and commercialized welcome areas are an issue in SL in general, as a result of this realization that the bigger you advertise when they're new, the more likely they'll return when they're able to spend. It's a competition for their minds and pockets. If Jack has newbies plopping into his store, they'll remember Jack but not Paul three sims over. So why does Jack have welcome area status and not Paul?

I'm afraid this kind of problem can never be completely resolved. This has been raging ever since the dawn of SL, when people bellyached that those closest to the telehubs (in a time when you could only teleport between Hubs!) had an unfair advantage, being much closer to all that traffic and garnering all those eyeballs. So the Lindens made direct teleports and took out the telehubs. But it didn't really solve the problem, since some telehub-turned-welcome areas still gave the neighbors a distinct advantage. So the Lindens made Ahern, Waterhead, and Hanja, all infohubs surrounded by either expanses of great plains or Linden offices and museums and forests, the primary welcome areas, with the rest being backups in case those welcome areas filled or failed.

That was all okay, but then SL exploded, and increasingly the backgrounds become de facto main infohubs. But it had been a long time, and most of the whiners had brand names and such that they didn't really care anymore. Now we have the Lindens selling off orientation islands and welcome areas to anyone who has the money to do so. Now, I can buy an orientation island, and saturate with ads and info of the Tsiolkovsky Studios products and locations, and all well within my rights! There was an outcry when it was found that the Ben And Jerry's Orientation island was practically impossible to escape. So for awhile, about an estimated three hundred newbies were trapped in an OI, unable to leave, and probably all ended up quitting in frustration ("Is this all there is to this shitty thing? What is the big deal about a neon coloured prison?? This isn't my world, my imagination!!").

Having destroyed their main argument, Ryan and Bear followed the next logic course of action in SL. Did they proceed to dismember the rest of their opponents' arguments, or force the opposition into a compromise? Please! This is SL! They called in the Lindens who banned the lot of the traffic limitation supporters for 'impersonating Lindens and acting in same regard'. Take your complaints, and don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya! Ah, SL justice.

Having witnessed such an intense showing of Dramha and debate, the citizens of Bear proceeded to crawl back into Voice chat, which bewildered the newbies and hearing impaired who wondered why everyone was just standing around. At which point I left, my job done.

I plan on visiting again in a year. I can't be expected to show up every day and save them from impending doom, after all. I have other non-drama related things to do with my day!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Police Audit

The Second Life Police Blotter displays the 25 most recent disciplinary actions taken by the Second Life Abuse Team. The date shown reflects when the incident occurred. Since I'm bored and lazy today, we're going to examine each incident in detail:

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Disturbing the Peace
Region: Wengen
Description: Prim littering.
Action taken: Warning issued.

Prim littering is usually committed by newbies who really have no idea where they are or that they shouldn't leave prims lying around. To report them and enforce Linden action against them is rather harsh, usually just going up and talking it over works much better and efficiently. How do I know this is a newbie? Wengen is the location of a Welcome Area.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Disturbing the Peace - Camping Chairs
Region: Roseland
Description: Camping chairs.
Action taken: Warning issued.

Camping chairs? Disturbing the peace? WHAT? Was the prospect of people earning L$ by sitting around offending your sense of dignity? Yes, let's wipe that filth off our streets, right? The only other offense I can think of is that there were so many camping chairs that it crowded others off the sim.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Disturbing the Peace: Repetitive Content, Spamming
Region: Jiminy
Description: Repetitive chat spam.
Action taken: Warning issued.

Chat spam? Oh, they just realized this today? I guess when you're busy hitting newbies with warnings and ripping camp chairs out, your day fills pretty quickly.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Harassment, Verbal Abuse
Region: Lusk
Description: Verbal abuse.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Ah, sweet justice. I agree, verbal abuse shouldn't be tolerated.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Indecency: Inappropriate Avatar Name
Region: LiaisonLand
Description: Inappropriate name.
Action taken: Warning issued.

How do you issue a warning for this? You can't change your name! Ever! This poor sap will get hit with more warnings and bans for something he can't change. Likely they advised him to create a new account.

This is also on a hidden island. So it was probably another newbie.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Waterhead
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Suspended 7 days.

Ah, Waterhead. You will notice this pattern of assault, as griefers are increasingly becoming more common. You will notice all receive at most a seven day suspension. This is because the griefers use new accounts, and the Lindens act as if these accounts are brand new and not alts.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Disturbing the Peace
Region: Ross
Description: Disturbing the peace with objects at Infohub.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Another griefing incident.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Adams
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Disturbing the Peace, Ad Content
Region: Orientation Island 34
Description: Disturbing the peace with unwanted adverts.
Action taken: Suspended 3 days.

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Help Island Public
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Suspended 3 days.

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Sandbox Island
Description: Assaulting residents in safe region.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Probably a moron who didn't get the memo that anything is allowed in sandboxes except shooting.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Disturbing the Peace, Scripted Objects
Region: Sandbox Island
Description: Excessive prim litter.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Another newbie who forgot to clean up after themselves.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Terms of Service: Misrepresentation
Region: LiaisonLand
Description: Misrepresentation.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Ow! Sounds like a Liaison didn't follow the line from Linden Lab. Probably one of them became drunk and had an incident on voice. Or maybe someone scammed their way into Liaison Land.

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Disturbing the Peace: Parcel Encroachment
Region: Spinolds Flat
Description: Parcel encroachment with mega prim.
Action taken: Warning issued.

This was probably accidental. It's hard to judge whether your prims are on your parcel since parcel lines are by default not shown. This problem is compounded when you're setting out a skybox.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Disturbing the Peace: Repetitive Content, Spamming
Region: —
Description: Repeated spam in IMs
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Ah, more spamming. In the Region of ... Dash? So, someone spammed someone else nowhere? Just kidding, it was in IMs, so I guess it was inter-regional. Probably was a griefer assaulting a rentals agent or land baron.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Second Life: Respect, Pets
Region: Abbey
Description: Testing.
Action taken: Suspended 7 days.

The violation is 'respect and pets'. The detail is ... testing? So, they were testing violation of respect for pets? And that warranted seven days? Here is the problem with this blotter, you can't get any further details. Who knows what the hell this was actually about.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Help Island Public
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Explorers Rangeland
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Disturbing the Peace: Repetitive Content, Spamming
Region: LiaisonLand
Description: Repetitively spamming.
Action taken: Suspended 7 days.

Liaison Land sure is being targeted today, isn't it? This is what, the fourth or fifth violation there today? Can't they put a rest to it? Maybe turn off building and scripting?
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Monty
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Warning issued.

Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Sandbox Cordova
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Griefing in a Sandbox, probably because someone can't read and thought all sandboxes should be warzones.
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Disturbing the Peace
Region: Taedong
Description: Shouting across region with scripted object.
Action taken: Warning issued.

This is rather obviously a test of a known griefing object, namely the objects that spam things like "Philip Linden says: Fuck you" over and over. And only a warning is issued? Didn't it occur to any of them that this was probably a precursor to another griefing event later?
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Assault, Scripted Objects
Region: Sandbox Island
Description: Assaulting others in safe region.
Action taken: Warning issued.

Another sandbox idiot.
Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Sexual Harassment
Region: LiaisonLand
Description: Sexual Harassment.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.

Again, Liaison Land! Can't we leave you alone for three hours without getting into trouble? I can imagine it is something like a revolving door over there, with people coming in and getting banned minutes later.
Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Violation: Community Standards: Harassment, Verbal Abuse
Region: Hyles
Description: Verbal abuse at Welcome Area.
Action taken: Suspended 1 days.


The Book of Nunchuck III

So it was and came to pass that Sipte ordered the Ony to serve the avatar, and bend to their every whim as a dog to his master. And at first, it was good. The Ony brought about a new level of comfort and wealth to the Grid such as had never been seen with so little work done by the people. And so they reveled Sipte, and raised him to the status of God, and erected for him a grand throne in the capital Kissling. Atop this mammoth golden throne he sat, as he watched his children the Ony serve his people.

As the people became more idle in leisure, so did they become idle in faith. Many a generation had passed since the Great One Year War, and the tales of mighty Grievers and Lindens battling 'cross the landscape fell into legend. So, too, did knowledge in the spirit of U. The Akelhians were diminished in recognition from most holy guardians and servants of Nunchuck to merely another animal wandering the SLandscape like the avatar. The Holy Femur was lost, lost to the mists of time in disuse and ignorance of its power. Such it was.

In this ignorance the people proved their downfall. The Ony was created of avatar, and thus could never possess the spirits and the soul, and were thus corrupted in being. Their existence and being depended upon drawing the U from the Grid, from its flora, from its fauna, from anything so long as it possessed the spirits the Ony could never have. This necessary greed drove them to further and further ends to sustain their existence, and came the day when the people came to fear even the shadow of an Ony.

For such it was that to obtain the spirit from its victim, the Ony killed their victim, leaving their prey as but lifeless shells. Their path was a wake of death, stilled by the theft of the soul. Thus did the people fear their creation, and even Sipte was troubled by their presence, and doubts clouded his mind. Even so, the people continued on the path to foolishness and ignorance, and took little heed as the Akelhians became more and more overflexed, for it was their noble duty to protect the land and people they so loved, and strove to reverse the paths the Ony made.

There came a time when Sipte, realizing that the Ony, as their rate, would not be satisfied with the spirits of the earth and the air and the animals, decided to sacrifice his own people so as to please his creations and further his reign above all. And this time was a time of anxiety and terror, as Sipte gave order to his children the Ony that to feed they could enter the home of any they so wished in moderation. The people fled the cities and the towns, taking refuge in the country side to avoid the notice of the Ony. Panic filled the hearts of the people, and survival their minds, and thus it came to pass that many began to dissent the rule of Sipte.

Chief among them were the Akelhians, Overseers of the People as Assigned by Nunchuck Most High. They had stood silent while the people's faith stagnated, and stood silent while the people created their own gods, and stood silent when those gods robbed the land of its spirit and life force. Now, now the creations threatened the Akelhians' ward the people, and so the Akelhians took up arms to fight the menace their flock had created in their own image, as the armies of the people fled in the wake of the Ony. Only the Akelhians stood fast in the face of Sipte and his Ony.

Sipte, fearing the end of his rule, ordered the Ony to attack all of the people, and the Akelhians, and the crops and the waters, and make the land unfit for those who would dare defy Sipte. A great famine stalked the land and the people suffered. Despair hung in the air, as all who dared to oppose Sipte died in the shadow of the ony. A great starvation came and took many children to Vivenshia, and the people weeped for those swept into the Arms of Nunchuck.

In the face of such suffering, the Akelhians could no longer be content with keeping Sipte at bay, and so they came charging to Kissling to do battle with Sipte and his Corruptions, so that peace would regain the land. And so the people knew much sadness, and they wailed for times lost now to time.

A change came in Kissling, however. In the lands of Sipte nothing stirred, and nothing breathed. All had been taken in the etheral hunger of the Ony, and ever in their lust for life did they turn on their master and creator Sipte. Thus ever to tyrants, that Sipte fell before his own children. Without a master, the Ony came to believe that they deserved existance withheld from them by Nunchuck's Guardians and his people, and one among them by the name of Qeosi, asked, "Why should they possess life without cost, while we must endure a constant hunger for a soul? Who among us have committed sins grand enough to place us below the Akelhians and the people? The sins of our creators are not our sins, why are we denied the same security of existence as our sinful creators?" And so they came to believe that if they destroyed all with the spirits, then they will gain redemption and that which they envied. And so they set to their mission.

The Fi-Akelhian Suu, lord of the Akelhians, saw this and despaired. For at this sight, he pitied Qeosi and his people, not having choice of being born as they were, and yet suffering their sins nonetheless. And born of his pity he ordered two avatars, by name of Ruth and Frank, to find the Holy Femur so that the Ony may find a fulfilled existence in the light of U under Nunchuck. He declared, "I charge unto thee, find OUr Lord's Femur, for if ever a tribulation called for its need, that tribulation is now, and I fear for His creatures that all is lost without its power. Off! Off! Find our salvation before all is lost!" And with those words, they searched.

They searched the valleys, and they searched the hills, and the oceans, and the mountaintops. They looked in the forests, and the desert. Their journeys held stories of which is beyond the scope of this universe to tell, and they met many wonders and peoples, but still they came up short in their quest. As their quest became of longer and longer lengths, Frank turned to Ruth and said, "Why must we suffer for a god we know not, for a people who only by the words of this god rule us, in a land no longer inhabitable?"

Ruth looked upon him, and said "Perhaps tis the words of such that Nunchuck, Praise Him and His Works, no longer blesses our people! Perhaps tis such words that we as his people must endure such a mission, so that we may find him again and be blessed."

But Frank was not swayed, proclaiming, "What has Nunchuck done for us? He has given us a leader who made such an evil, and given us spirits that fail to guard us, and given us a hope that has been quenched and forgotten. We have seen a great number of people who live far from the evils of ours, why not we go to live with them, that we may know peace in our time?"

"Away! Away with you then! Boast not of your journeys with me, so that when Nunchuck comes to His people He cannot say 'You lost faith in Me and My servants and My people in their hour, and forsake my name in your troubles. Therefore I shall forsake you in your hour.'" And with those words, Ruth continued while Frank stayed and enjoyed the fruits of the lands.

Suu prayed and prayed that Ruth and Frank should find the Femur for time was growing short and each passing day saw fewer Akelhians return from containing the ony to the lands of Sipte and greater misery among the people. He desired the Femur so that with the power of Nunchuck he may bless and impart upon the Ony their own souls, that they may never again need nor desire the spirits of others to live and to quench their thrist for blood. Each day and each night he beseeched Nunchuck to enlighten Frank and Ruth in their search, that to end the misery of His people.

Qeosi at this time came to fear his people would die before they could accomplish their mission and salvation, and so in between their feedings and their battles they too searched for alternate end.

And in time he came across the ancient tomes, from ages past, on creating a god.

The time was dire. And Ruth searched on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Snapshot of a Griefing

My dear friends, today I bring you an example of a griefing attack as it happened to me. This thirty second clip may shock and awe you. Please be aware that the sound level of this clip is greatly reduced, and nothing of course can compare to actually being there and experiencing it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Psalm of Rutledge # 1

OH HOLY and GREAT NC......

begatter of the begeeners, wombat of all Earthly and Chocolate Shoppe related things.......

Dancing nakedly over the terrain of all Second Life....

Honor us with your Grace and line our pockets daily with Linden's in denominations of $100.00 or more.....

Help us create the ULTIMATE and Superior sime weenie roast for Phill the King of the Weenies.......

Gazoondheidt to ALL in hte Great NC's Name......

whichever one He or She is using today........


er, Mommmmmmmmm.

As Inspired by Madison Rutledge, of the Yuri Sect of Nunchuck


Rotinda Rotundra
One Two Foo
Shortcut Aef Number Mane Manes 16 16 16 no 24
Make aste, for not the spirit of the baker to paste his works upon the whims of the hydrants in the city of Prague, Nebraska which is bad form in the third house of the fifth star by the mountains that are not purple because that song is totally wrong and i have no idea why purple mountains would even be considered as a possible picture when no picture is perfect.
317 3 17 almost time almost time almst time almst almstamstamstamst ast ast a a a a a a a
sweet sweet cupcakes. neither cup nor cake. Or are they? A cup of cake, not a cake of cup.
Why does the words use letters in them? Do we read the letters or the words? Letters are like
abcdefhijklmnopstuvxyz or how about abcdefgijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdfghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijkmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijkmnopqrstuvwxyz abcdefghijklmnpqrstuvwxyz there is a pattern in there somwhere i think or no
I am most assuredly, mad. No way, she says. Indeed, says I, there is a way. Let us take a journey. We know you are sane, correct? Why yes, normal as apple pie admits she. And you would never call yourself mad, correct? Of course! Since I am calling myself mad, then I am mad for if I were sane I would assert I was not mad, I concluded.

The Universe, Among Other Things

Someone once told me something ridiculous, at least it sounded so at the time. "Somewhere, out there, somehow, there are universes which follow whatever made up places exist. Somewhere there's a universe where giant robots transform into jet planes, somewhere there is an intelligent yellow living sponge living in a hollowed out underwater pineapple. Somewhere, they are out there, and our imagination is our portal to them."

At the time, I dismissed it as wishful thinking, an invention of its own to justify the existence of these works of fiction. A sort of "a friend of a friend of a friend told me" deal, only feigning credibility by attempting to use quantum physics. By the same logic, burning the books and having the entire world forget about it, lost novels, would be quantum erased (which is possible in actual QP), or that our meaningless daydreams would spawn whole universes seems to me as remarkable narcissistic of our role as human beings on this planet and this universe as a whole.

In other words, I find it vain. It's like saying the traffic light turned green because it knew you were coming down in a Mercedes. No, it's like saying that the traffic light existed at all only to show off that it turned green for your Mercedes. It's like saying the Mercedes and the traffic light came into being to justify running towards the light in it so it could turn green. In science, we tend to call that a 'hypothesis without consideration for falsifiability'. Translated into normal English, that means 'bullshit'.

It is true that multiple universes are a theory to explain some quantum effects. However, we're talking on the level of quarks and below, and it is unknown whether or not the random firings of neurons in a particular species on a particular planet would really, if ever, spawn universes to that entity's flights of fancy. It's almost hijacking science, like saying that because objects in motion tend to stay in motion that if we all load into a rocket we could reach the edge of the universe on a firework. It's true, but not in the sense that seems intuitive.

Don't take my word on this, as I am a mere student and not credentialed in this field. My take on it is cursory at best, and horribly and hopelessly wrong at worst. Please don't quote me, or lay me on the fire, and if I am indeed off, I'd like to be corrected. End of Fair Warning.

So, I dismissed it. But then we get here, to SL, and while there's not multiple universes, there are multiple places more or less based upon the imagination of the resident. It is not hyperbole to state that the mind is the limit. I believe SL is the closest we will come to an actual demonstration of multiple co-existing universes at the moment. Not just role playing, but entire buildings and artifacts, stringing together islands to form whole continents, some have taken SL to new extremes.

Each island is a universe. A self contained world, with its own laws and ideals. Some grow and expand, and others shrivel and die, and others just are. The possibilities are endless and vast, as numerous as the stars in the sky. One island is a futuristic take on Times Square, the next is a tribal Gor sim.

And SL is our portal between these worlds. The players in each island are usually static, they stay in their own, and others theirs, and very rarely do they mingle or contact. Only I, and others like me, dare to cross into these worlds and shed light into them, not out of any noble goal but a simple curiosity about our land, and the imagination of others that have built it into what it is today.

Right now, the seams between the universes are crossable, whether by teleporting or walking. Will the future yield a more closed continuum? Right now we're at something like C.S. Lewis' Woods Between The Worlds, where all we have to do is jump into the puddles, teleport, and we're in Charn, or Narnia, or the Death Star, or in a pad in San Diego, or cruising tunnels with the mole people. These worlds are but a click away. Sure, most are tame and bland with rows and rows of suburban ranch homes, but even these have their light.

Such day-to-day housing is 'everyday architecture', the kind you drive by and you don't give it a second thought. You drive between the rowhomes, and to you it's nothing, it's just homes. But that's architecture, that's the homes that define your city, your area. One blog (I forget where) lamented that the greatest loss of architecture in Hurricane Katrina was not to New Orleans' French Quarter, or its downtown. No, the hardest hit was its 'everyday architecture', countless homes built in the '50s and '60s that defined what we thought of a New Orleans home. And it's gone. New housing is replacing it, and that will become everyday. And so the process continues, with styles coming and dying with the cycles of the urban centers, with no one to sit down and take notice.

And this is all reachable, provided that one knows how to search and navigate the virtual sea, as I like to call the void between the islands and the mainland.

In the future, who knows? Perhaps this Wood will shrink, be destroyed by logging. Maybe it'll expand, and become THE world, a world of portals where uniqueness is showcased as if a painting, something to note in a textbook and nothing more. Cultures and nations of a virtual world consigned to a generality, like "Waterhead was a very griefed infohub". How much would be lost? And how much saved? Would such an action destroy the very thing that we're trying to immortalize by reducing it to such a simple block for the masses? After all, who really wants to get into the massive furry community in Second Life? Wouldn't it be easier for a three paragraph notecard, with maybe a few snapshots of furry sims, to be posted in the Woods so that all will know there were once furries?

Either scenario is, of course, a worst case. Perhaps a restriction would be good, preserving internet cultures that would wither amongst the masses, flooded with griefers. Such a restriction would make the reward, being able to world hop, that much more sweet. And opening up the world, making a museum of the SL landscape, would enrich people into the worlds people have set up in SL. Similar to the way that we visit Art Museums, but we still appreciate the work and sweat that went into such works.

It's a big universe out there. Like the real life universe, perhaps only a small fraction is ever really visited by the average resident.

And that's terrible.

The Beginning of Another Journey

Once upon a time, there was a grid. It held lots of sims at the time, about two thousand or so, and while it lagged a little now and then, on the whole it was stable, and there was only a few seconds of time delay in crossing the seams from one sim to another. Vehicles were actually usable!

It was a more naive time too, at least the Lindens were. The only thing turned off in those days was push, building and scripting were free for all, save on the resident parcels. There were griefers, and some major attacks had been carried out, but everyone had full confidence that the Lindens would more than sufficiently handle it.

Fast forward to today. Today most people stand around, looking for all the world like zombies. Due to the increasing lag and frequency of crashing, added with the inability to retain new users (leading to a stagnation of both ideas and creativity), has lead to a situation where people stand around where ever they happen to log in, and IM friends rather than actually move about (Teleporting is remarkably unstable for SL's main mode of transportation. Although it seems downright outstanding compared to simply walking across into another sim).

The Lindens run a virtual police state, which would be tolerable (it is their game, after all) except that they seem to do more stating than policing. In Govenor Linden land, everything is turned off, to the point that you can't rezz a sneeze in most welcome areas. As said, however, their power reaches only as far as you can throw a feather. Griefers and trouble makers run rampant not a half a football field away from the Linden offices, right in Waterhead, an official LL infohub!

This whole fiasco seems to have started around late January to mid February. It started with an update that went so terribly, they had to offer a downdate to people while they fixed it. And the grid has never been the same since. Something snapped in SL there, something that's never been quite worked out, and the Lindens just roll out new features rather than address, probably because it is such a difficult problem (and who knows, maybe they've been working on it all this time, BECAUSE it is so difficult). At times, I wish I had started later, so that my benchmark for performance was set lower.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

For about a month ago, I purchased a new computer! My old one was getting, well, old. It crashed when attempting to open Microsoft Word. So sadly, I sentenced it to Electronic Heaven. Crashing was instantly cut in half, and I was able to actually walk around! In a sim! With attachments on! But I still crashed and lagged, my computer was one of the fastest in the land but two things played against my favour: Vista and Second Life.

The former was an easy fix, which involved a day or so of trashing Vista and cleaning and polishing off all the cruft and jetsam that Bill Gates so thoughtfully crammed into my hard drive. It was Second Life that proved a tougher opponent. Who would have guessed that the very thing I was using was working against me?

Saying SL has issues is like saying Grenada is small. It has massive errors embedded into its code. I'm not a programmer, but I'm fairly certain that when my computer is top of line fresh off the belt, with Windows shaved down and running smoothly, and my internet connection secure and fast, that there's something up when SL still runs like a hog to a slaughterhouse.

There's also massive memory leaks, which I know exist whenever I bring up the task manager to find that SL has decided to hoard 951K of memory instead of the usual 50-100. And that's only after two hours. I pity the people who, either through sheer will or necessity to run a SL business, stay on all day long.

I've exhausted all possible options for running SL, so I have decided to try an experiment, and tap into the newer opensource clients. I expect most of them to be no better than their parent client, but as SL hits rock bottom, then the only way is up.

I will start with Nicolaz's 'patch' clients, and work my way from there, and let yous know how it works out for me.

A Duel

I don't always agree with Prokofy, and I don't always feel he's attacking the right issues, but I do approve of how he can always make me laugh even when I don't care a fig about what he's talking about.

Case in Point.

Prok and some lawyer have taken to blows between their blogs. But the best is this (in response to the lawyer's critiquing of Prokofy's avatar):

"I wasn't aware that we have to apply ages to our avatars. Usually people refer to avatar ages by their actual years -- mine is nearly 3. I'm 51 in real life. Prokofy looks to be about 35, I imagine, I'm not sure, I never really worked at ascribing him an age. I don't feel he is 'slight' as he is some 7 feet tall I think in avatar equivalents and often can't walk under a doorway. I imagine his duffle bag slider is set at a higher number than Benjamin Noble -- and that wouldn't be hard to do, trust me."

Not to be outdone in absurdity, his opponent responds!

"[Prokofy's] modes of attack include deliberately misquoting people [he] wants to discredit, personally belittling anyone who disagrees with [him], making up horrible lies about interlocutors, and ultimately, taking what appears to be an immense amount of joy in being one of the most wantonly disagreeable people in the virtual world."

Modes of attack? I suppose Prok is some kinda robot now, with five configurations! Batteries sold separately!

He later accuses Prok of libel, to which Prok challenges:

"Let Duranske submit all my posts to a panel of experts and they will find that criticism that specifies people's actions as objectionable isn't libel; it's robust discourse necessary in a democracy!"

"Thank God I'm here to perform this public service, or we'd only have one kind of commentary in Second Life, that of the smug and arrogant tekkie."

"[Prok has accused me] Of supporting the torture of Chinese dissidents ... and then, a few weeks later, of trying to destroy Second Life and have its founder arrested ... And of being a half-dozen vulgar anatomical terms including — at the PG-13 end — “massive asshole,” and “giant dick."

Prok offers no denials: "Major-league asshole is I think the expression."

"Be that as it may, I will keep fighting the good fight. People like Duranske trying to make grabs for power and influence to pump up their vanity need to be stopped. It's hard work, and I hope I will have more company in this. If I'm stopped, I have no doubt someone else will pick up the torch. Seriously, it's a job that needs to be done."

This is a tragedy. A tragedy that these two individuals, who otherwise appear to be of sound and sane mind, have devolved into this school yard fight. It's pointless, nonsensical arguments about first, a bank that had been ailing for some time; secondly, who's more right and more important; and thirdly, who's banned from where and why. Stupid Stupid stupid.

This is the main reason we won't get anywhere with regards to unified resident communities and voices. None of us seemingly wants to compromise. Reading Prok's earlier posts, he notes that Ginko was dying off, but take a look AFTER Benji claimed it was a ponzi: suddenly, Prok endorses it! Even adding money to it! Benji goes and crashes a meeting of Prok's, alt-zooming in, making snide remarks, being disruptive. It's just ridiculous. Tragedy is the word for it. Two brillant minds focusing their energies solely on who is right, like children in kindergarten. It is the most terrible waste I have ever seen or heard of since North Korea.

And this is just a game. These kinds of debates (raging at the moment all across SL) make me cry even as I'm laughing.

And that's terrible.

Training Wheels

A few new people complain to me sometimes about how difficult it is, to which I usually reply "Have you tried talking to anyone yet?".

I find that, in most cases, people are helpful. They add the Life to Second Life. Without engaging people, you're really just playing in a glorified virtual Lego set. I always toll on people to go out, make a few friends, hang out.

The big deal is that you don't stay in SL for the features. Crashing and lag are not features you stay for. It's the people. Look at the retention rates: Infohubs and help islands that are heavily populated usually keep people for a minimum of three months, and about half stay longer. A community builds, people get to know each other, you come back. Places that are sparsely populated will bleed newbies like a hemorrhaging aorta. They log in, and are befuddled by the controls, or what to do, or where to go, or just get lonely and quit and write the deal off as a loss.

If I had my way, I'd have a mentor at each infohub and welcome area and help island, 24-7. Rotate in shifts. Cover as much ground as possible. And engage these people in conversations. You'd be surprised at the difference between what people say and what they actually want. Pay attention. Resist the urge to spam advice, or notecards, or freebies unless asked or they accept your offer. But don't pressure. Try to string a group together, so they have someone to pal around with when you punch the clock.

Speaking of which, we also need to perfect the art of determining who is truly new and who is faking it. And quite honestly, only an honest conversation will draw that distinction. Should we punish these people? I don't think so, unless there is malicious intent, such as using the guise of innocence as an excuse to be an asshole. Otherwise, use them as a tool to again, keep the convo flowing. Because people keep people engaged, and that cascades over time.

Too often we get so wrapped up in our daily business and tasks that we overlook those who enter with a blank slate and no one to turn to. If your sim crashes, you go to a friend's. If you build something, you invite friends over to admire and appraise and critique it. If you're bored, you IM them. You go to parties and concerts, clubs and formals. It's so pathetically easy to overlook this extremely simple basic of SL.

We shouldn't take this too far, either. We should engage as training wheels, and when the time comes that these new people start branching off and finding their wings, we shouldn't jealously hold them tight, but take pride that they've moved on and hopefully become a productive member of society. And then we move on. Because they keep pouring in. We're training wheels, and when they're stable enough we're removed and unneeded, and passed on to the next person. Not that you have to cut all ties with them, but don't try to rule their lives either. When they go, let them be.

It takes training wheels to keep the grid up.

How Far Do We Allow?

A Caliphate opened in SL recently, and indications are that it is going to follow traditional Islamic law, at least in Role play.

There's the usual bitching and whining, with debates engaged in discussing whether or not this is SL's expansion into multiculturalism (a result of SL's growth into every niche in the world) or an attempt to extend Sharia law into a virtual medium.

One does have to find it unsettling that a code of law which can be, under fundamentalist guidance, misogynistic and intolerant. Look at the prime example of Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed out without a man accompanying them (which was modified recently to include any male, even small boys). Or in Iran, where ageplay takes a whole new level with the age of consent set at the age of nine (any younger, and you cannot marry but instead take them as a 'mistress'). In either country, you can be stoned to death for merely converting to any religion save for Islam (as happened in Afghanistan, where the United States had to exert tremendous pressure to allow a convert to be expelled from the country instead of executed).

On the other hand, this may be an attempt at enriching our cultural horizons and bring architecture, music, art, and knowledge from their legacy (not to mention the incredible debt we owe to the 13th Century development of algebra and other developments which greatly advanced science and mathematics at a time when those fields stagnated in Europe). Can you imagine the incredible build taking shape there? The graceful arches and columns, the soaring golden domes of the local mosque? Their mosaics (which could never feature a human face? Talk about a handicap!), yes, this could be a unique opportunity, a great PR blow for SL. Certainly a break from the usual suburban cookie cutter houses and art which seem to dominate SL.

But this is the pivotal question here, the point of these debates: Will this be a museum exhibit of a culture, or a foray into fundamentalist extremism on our dear grid?

Can we have one without the other? And do we want that?

I think first we should ask some of the larger and influential Muslim groups in SL their opinions on it. Do they wish to have an exhibit of glory days long past? Is that really their religion today, a time capsule from the 13th century? As Dawkins put it, do we want to sacrifice an entire people (He used the example of the Amish) to living forever in the past without their consent merely for our entertainment and enjoyment? We need to get their views on it, as something like this island can and will influence the ideas and thought patterns of the SL public.

Second, we have to establish which of the two above directions the island owners and group leaders of this project are bearing into. Do we want hapless individuals to be swallowed into an ideology which we know is unacceptable in real life (one cannot look at sharia law and claim it is progressive, liberal, or enjoyable. Which is true of any theocracy, I suppose)? We here in SL already have problems, issues, and intense arguments over the effects of Gor and its laws and customs and sects. Imagine the flames when they're fanned by the addition of real life beliefs and canons! One of the main ideals of Islamic fundamentalists is that the world is subject to their laws. If it turns out this island is headed that way, how will they take to SL? Will it too be subject to their imposition? You can set your watch on it.

And finally, we have to ask ourselves and look into our crystal balls: will any of this even matter? It's our world, our imagination, and a world where death, pain, and suffering are avoided with a mere TP to another sim. So what if a small patch of three or four islands adheres to beliefs offensive to you, when there are four thousand mainland sim and at least six thousand islands? There's always a haven somewhere in SL for you, no need to get frizzled over a teeny archipelago you find offensive.

I believe the answer to these three will determine the appropriate response to this project. If we sit down and examine the responses to these, we can come to a rational conclusion without all the drama that this is kicking up.

If it does become a museum or a peaceful and tolerant place of SL worship, then I'll have no qualms about it. Live and let live. I think I might not even care if they practiced extreme Islamic law from literal Koran translations, provided they either provided fair warning of their activities or closed the island to those only in their group.

But where I'd draw the line is if they attempted to drag that into my public and private life. A few Goreans do this, where they can't keep their business on their sims. I find this mildly offensive, especially so since I don't force my beliefs and lifestyle on them on their sims. "You can't talk to me, and in such a tone! I am the Lord of so-and-so, and you are a mere slave. You are lucky today, in that this sim has damage disabled, else I would smite your smug face from my presence!". All that, for saying 'how's it going'. This was a one time deal, and I've found it is not the norm. Most Gors turn it off when visiting public areas and plazas. A few pull a more subtle form of imposing their beliefs on the masses, which is to bring their overly respectful and formal titles to others (the most notable being one fellow who addressed everyone as Lord or Lady, and treated them as such), but this I find less offensive and more annoying. Gor stays out of my face, I'm willing to allow its adherents to live SL as they wish.

So yeah, I draw the line where you start telling me what to do outside of commonly accepted laws and values (i.e. don't run around naked, don't grief, etc.). Don't you dare run up to me and demand I don a headscarf because you're offended by my lack thereof, and that if I don't you'll harass and stalk me throughout the grid until I do. Because I like to believe I'm a fairly tolerant person. I'm willing to live and let live (Nunchuck only knows that's necessary on a platform as rich and diverse as SL). But when you get all up in my grill, expect me to scrape you off my radiator.

As a final note, this is my take on all things, so don't leave me comments about my biases or double standards or such, because there aren't any. I paint with the same brush with which I brush my teeth and clean toilets. So please, think before you type, and read and mull over your comment before you press 'post'.


Nutter: The fact is, so far, tax cutting has not caused a cut in revenues. …I was born, bred, raised all my trouble in Philly. I understand the need for services.Providing services is what we do, it’s the business we’re in. When people call City Hall, they’re not calling to see how we’re feeling. They want us to do something.One thing we need to do for them is create jobs. One of the ways we are going to create jobs is to get out of the position of being the No. 1 tax burden city in America.

Citizen Freda Egnal: I question the premise that cutting taxes will result in more business. I find it surprising that someone running as a Democrat would take that position.Democrats have not typically been handmaidens of the Chamber of Commerce.

Nutter: I’m the representative, or have been, of people in Philly who want to work.For them to do that, there have to be businesses willing to create jobs in Philadelphia. I’ve been clear about something and will continue to try to get it across: Taxes are not the only thing that drives that decision. It’s about public safety, it’s about better schools, it’s about open and ethical government, it’s about arts and culture, it’s about, after 40 years of inanity, finally developing our riverfront as Boston and Balitmore have done theirs. But you can’t ignore the fact that we have the highest tax burden and that’s a big factor.

Nutter: It’s not a mystery why we’re not holding on to a high percentage of the kids graduating from all these great colleges. When the graduations are over and the parties are done and mom and dad cut off the credit card, these kids have to go to work. So they are looking for cities where they can find good jobs.

Nutter: We’re the fifth largest city in America – when the mayor stands up and says something, people will pay attention. Whatever the governance situation with the schools is, the mayor can be a face, a voice for public education, trying to reinvigorate our parents, keep trying to push that rock up that hill. This is not just about passing some bill. It's called moral leadership.Our ultimate goal should be to get kids tired; give ‘em so much to do by the time they get home all they want to do is do their homework and go to bed.

Nutter: Clean up your neighborhood. You know, only five things come down from the sky: rain, show, sleet, hail and blessings from the Lord. Not potato chip bags.Potato chip bags: people put them there, and people can pick them up.I understand we in government have a responsibility to provide services. But, it may be a little corny, but there’s something to this thing called citizenship.I’ve been around this city some. This place is a mess; it’s dirty; it says something about how we feel about ourselves. Step up. Try to do something about it. Take some responsibility for cleaning up your block. We’ll meet you halfway.

Letter From Anna To The Bearians

Letter from Anna to the Bearians:

Though you laugh and mock us with your silence, we hold no grudge.Though you accuse and deride us, we bear no ill will.

For it is the will and desire of our Lord, Nunchuck, that all that is good is His good, and all that is bad is not His. Take heart those among you, silent in faith, that although you fear reprisals and are silent, Nunchuck shall read your heart and smile, and when your time comes that you journey to Vivenshia, take peace in knowing that you go with the grace of Nunchuck, the Akelhians, and the Grievers.

For those that harden their hearts to His words and works, hear me that there is time to condone, for never has Nunchuck felt but love for his people, that if one of his hatchlings falls from the nest, he shall find it if it calls for him. Those who do not call for Nunchuck will stay on the ground, far from the safety of the nest, and fall prey to the predators lurking in the shadows. Take heed these words!

It is with this in mind that I write to you, and explain how to gain His grace so that all will be comforted in the Eternal Glory that is His Light.

Let go of your prejudices, your fears, your misapphrensions. Embrace your neighbor with kindness and love. Judge not on appearances or profiles, but on the strength of their heart and the purity of their soul. Such it is that a ripe apple may appear delectable and beautiful as wax yet be rotten to the core and riddled with worms so that the farmer will throw it out, but the apple that is bruised and dull may be made into pie, this is the way of Nunchuck. For He will throw out that which is rotten and withered inside, and keep those ripe with righteousness in their soul.

Take not such a stand with those set to destroy Nunchuck's Good Works. Cast a wary eye for griefers and lindens that seek but to destroy. Hold no patience for those who drop particles upon you, crash out your homes and your businesses, and attack you without mercy. For they are not the servants of Nunchuck, nor are they agents of His Wrath, for never would Nunchuck ordain actions of such gravity He Himself would not do, such is His Goodness. Nay, instead cast them from your doorstep. May they seek Nunchuck's forgiveness for themselves, worse than those who ignore his words they are. He holds no mercy for the unmerciful, no rest for those who cause unrest. Such is His Justice. And surely, his wrath will spillth over to those who associate with these creatures, and they will feel His Wrath as certain as the rivers feel the tides of the oceans. Be not complacent among those who go against the Will of Nunchuck, especially against His People.

Do good works. It does not matter what the gain, or the glory, or the consquences behind lie. For surely the good deeds of the lowliest among you is the same as the good deeds of the highest, just as honey from two different hives tastes as sweet. Surely, I say to you, the people of my homeland, that Nunchuck rewards a good deed twice over, and never has He forgotten anyone who has eased the pains and struggles of His people. Indeed, one who does such is a follower and believer of Nunchuck however many times they may deny it, and should be treated as such. And one who does evil is fallen from Nunchuck and devoid of His Glory despite their claims to the contrary, and should be treated as such.

Follow these three simple commandments: Love your neighbor, seek peace and turn evil to good, and do good works. In these three ways may you court the Smile of Nunchuck, and live forever in His Light. And if others mock you for following, take solcist in the knowledge that Nunchuck will reward you all the more.

Take heed these words! For never was it written that those who heeded His Words and returned was turned away, but no good was written of those who stuffed their eyes with wax and cotton and closed their eyes. Many among you have fallen from His Grace, I am reassuring you that all is not lost and redemption is at hand for those who apologise and return to Him. It is never too late! His love is for all!

You have seen signs of the hardship of today, take heart in that this is not the worst! In days long past, events more global and climatic have occurred, signs that the evil of the past has not rested in the present, and that only in Nunchuck is there salvation and hope.

I see fear and despair when they bomb with particles and sounds and offense, I beseech you to take hope and comfort in Nunchuck, for He will never abandon His people, and never will He allow it to destroy the grid He loves so. For every time a sim crashs, that is merely Nunchuck wiping out that which offends Him so that we may live again on His grid.

I say to you, those who give up and despair at these events are consoling with the enemies of Nunchuck. Panic not, for He walks with you. Fear not, for He protects you. Despair not, for He shall restore you. Rest in the peace of His Grace, and enjoy His Gifts.

Follow His Words, Do Good Works in His Name, Strive for Peace, and Stand Bold, so that you, my fellow citizens of Bear, may know of His Sweet Rewards.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

There Is No Contradiction

A Biblical friend of mine pointed me to this when I wasn't buying his "Bible is always right" theory, to show me that the Bible, indeed, is always right:

"THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:Is divorce ever permissible? Different texts seem to say different things:

divorce is never permissible (Mk 10:11; Lk 16:18)
only when the wife is unfaithful (Mt 5:32; 19:9)
when the 'unbelieving' partner chooses to leave (1 Cor 7:15)
when the husband is displeased with his wife (Deut 24:1-2)

Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:The last text listed above is from a different covenant than the other texts. If the Law of Moses says one thing, and the Gospel of Christ says another,

there is no contradiction."


A Proposal To Second Life's Successor

The next great metaverse-type game that will succeed SL is Minesweeper.

Hear me out.

In minesweeper, you play a humble minesweeper, charged with the duty of sweeping mines from a stretch of land/water/air/space so that people/boats/planes/International Space Stations can cross without fear of hitting a land mine/mine/air mine/space mine. It's a tough job. The first mine you hit could be your last. It's a slow paced action thriller!

Now, it's just single player. It's just you and the mines.

But imagine the possibilities of a massive Minesweeper world! It's your world, your imagination, your mines! You can team with friends to sweep them, or foil their efforts by actually planting your swept mines into their path. Each path you sweep will open up new worlds and places. With each new location, you can buy land, and on it build wondrous creations, which may or may not be related to mine sweeping! It's up to you!

It would solve many many problems we see today in SL. For one, it would increase retention rates by at least 100%, if not more. Stay at any infohub, chat up the newbies. They want direction, they want something to do. They like the open ended possibilities, but they want to learn something first, or start doing something. As it is, SL starts them off as something like a Hobo, with nothing but the clothes on their backs and some L$ if they're a premium. Minesweeper Life would give starters something to occupy them while they learn the ropes and dangles.

It would add some thrills to an otherwise dry experience. SL is not that exciting, to be honest. This is a leading cause of why we have such dramah outside of it, with forums fights, and SL blogs at each other's throats, and griefers attacking and people muting everywhere. They're all bored witless, so they turn on each other. It's like being locked up in a dark room with no one but yourself, eventually you'll start hating yourself and beating yourself up. Minesweeper would distract that and tone it down. It won't eliminate it entirely, they'll always be a few diehards, but it will definitely end this three ring circus.

We shouldn't undervalue the potential of shock value either. Minesweeper is a boring pre-installed game. So making it into a fully fledged universe would turn some heads! It's a bold move into a bold future. It'd be all over the internet: "MINESWEEPER SWEEPS INTO NEW DIRECTION!" This'd be even bigger than when they added the 'Vegas' scoring option on Solitaire. People love watching old things twisted into new directions. Just look at people's fascination with train wrecks, both figurative and literal.

One thing I have noticed in SL is that we don't have cities. The closest we may come is small villages if you can consider an infohub a 'village commons'. Part of this is due to unchangeable (for us anyway) physical constraints; the servers can't hold more than forty people at a time, maybe eighty if the sim is on a single server which is only done for mega corporations. For us peons it's forty. Forty in SL would feel like a city, except it doesn't, the sim will lag out and odds are that it'll crash. I've been to concerts with only nineteen spectators where the sim crashed under the load. But for some reason, even when the load allows it, people don't bunch into cities. Most of SL is at its highest density comparable to a distant suburb. People build homes and effectively abandon them. I watched one house for a month every day, and not once did the owner come by and check in. In SL, people are allergic to cities, I guess.

Minesweeper Life would change that. Not so easy to suburban sprawl when YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY LIVE EXPLOSIVE MINES, now, is it? The less adventurous among us would reside in these cities, free of mines, a place for them to sleep at night and build and interact in safety. And this could only help new people, because right off the bat you'd be in a city, surrounded by people who know how to play and where to go and what to do. IN SL, all too often, someone will pop in, fresh off OI, and be completely alone in the middle of nowhere. Sure, NCI and the Shelter and the Mentors may get 20%, and infohub regulars may help another 15%, but that leaves a whole lot that manage to miss these people and wander about with little or no idea of what they are supposed to do, how to do anything, or where they even are. Minesweeper would shove them right where they would have others around to harass and help them.

Ah, Minesweeper. What would we do without you?

Mini Me

Show Me The Money

Lindens in game are worthless to LL, even if you pay texture fees, classifieds, group costs, and the like.

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.


Regular paperclips, you can only link together into intricate chains and maybe a few patterns. But for my money, butterfly clips are where office art is at.

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.

And 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.

Viva La Evolution!

Imagine, if you will, that SL has biological taints on it. That we could draw comparisons between the Meat World (as Prokofy among others have called it) and the Silicon World.

We don't have DNA, but we do have the code. We're all coded the same way to the same parameters. It forms the basis for our entire world. Unlike Meat world, we have a choice in it, but here is where the Silicon equivalent of evolution pops in. While in Meat world physical external stimuli affect how species develop, in SL it's memes. If you take a moment, you can see it's true. There is a meme that one generally does not create especially hideous avatars. There is a meme against extremely overweight avatars as well. A meme that dictates prim hair is preferable to the standard. These are mental stimuli that naturally select what survives. Someone insistent upon having huge feet is not likely to get far as the pressure of the crowd will ridicule him and likely insist he choose a more 'normal' avatar.

This is not to say that everyone consciously picks and weeds out the weirdos. It's a subtle psychological deal, and much of it depends upon the group you are trying to fit into. Fur sims probably will not take kindly to people who appear to be griefers, natural selection there will favour either other furs or 'normal' people. Baku will naturally select those willing to toe the line in both appearance and in the Lindens' patience. The group and its memes and attitudes will determine how you look, and to break this takes a very very strong will, and the percentage of the population able to do this and then willing to is very very tiny. The coding is our DNA. Memes are our natural selection.

As I stated above, we do have a kind of avatar evolution going on constantly around us. When I started in November, prim hair was practically standard, but flexi hair was for but the very rich and was almost brand new. Skin was very vague looking and nowhere as detailed as today. No one cared about eyes. Attachments were limited to jewelry and shoes, anything else was considered rude (believed to lag the sim, which I don't have evidence for or against, as I've never bothered to study it).

Fast forward to today. All but short hair is flexi. Skin looks eerily similar at times to real life skin. AOs are standard and attachments for anything and everything are commonplace. As griefing is still in public memory, shields have gotten surprisingly complex and so effective that a person can exclude even avatars within a five meter radius. What happened? Memes happened. In this case, the general meme was "go towards realism and safety". And so it did. It drove people to create better looking hair and skin, and more protective shields. The natural selection imposed by memes fueled the evolution of the avatar.

It should be noted that there is one subtle difference between Meat and Silicon. Evolution in RL is fueled by the desire of genes and DNA to survive and pass on to the next generation. Evolution in SL is fueled not by the code/DNA of the avatar but of the 'soul' of the avatar (namely, YOU) who desires to continue on. I suppose if we refine our model to say the controller is the compilation of memes, and whether her or his memes survive depends upon whether they survive 'natural selection'. This then would be similar to RL where we are compilation of genes and whether our genes survive depends upon natural selection.
We are coming to a natural pressure far greater than any SL has encountered before. It is called voice. Already, we can see the memes split into "uses it" and "doesn't use it", and both are in a competition, and it's exciting to wonder which will win out and pressure the other into extinction. My bet is that as the old hands quit or fade away, the "uses it" meme will prosper.

It's perfectly logical. The old hands are ingrained into chat, it's all they've had to communicate for months and sometimes years. But the new people are introducing new memes into the pool, some of which won't survive ("HEY LETS CRASH THE GRID LOL") and others which will . In this case, the overwhelming majority seems to be conforming to voice, and introducing the meme that SL is little more than a three dimensional page.

Let's try to draw out other similarities with Meat world. We've just covered 'genetics'. I suppose we try societal development.

SL started with rather close and connected communities. There wasn't that many people around, so everyone knew the Joneses, so to speak. This is similar to some cultures like Babylon or Catal Hyuk, where relatively small to medium groups banded together into larger and larger communities, often very close knit. I'd go as far as to say early SL was more like the Roman Empire, everything united and hardly any conflict or disaster that affected the majority of the citizens.

Then we get some world changing developments. Free accounts (you still had to provide a credit card) came in and swarmed the place, dramatically changing the way people viewed their communities. Groups leaked in that neither knew nor cared about the previous establishment. It was an all out invasion, and the original SL civilization couldn't really handle it. To be fair, it was really a combination of factors: The originals' sheer number eroded as some quit or joined the Lindens, the fact that SL had been getting some attention and thus had quite a few ready to burst through the gate, the fact that the Lindens themselves misinterpreted exactly how the world would be affected by this influx, and probably more. Each of these on its own would have been survivable, but they all kinda came at once.

And that brings us to today. Today, I think there is more than sufficient evidence for the development of feudal societies in SL. Private islands fueled this fire, but they didn't start it, it was the aforementioned destabilization that really sparked it. With the shattering and scattering of the old society, people began clinging to what they had left, which usually involved a favoured or a local group. What we've ended up with, in other words, is a bunch of scattered kingdoms with the SL version of the Catholic Church attempting to exert control over the entire land with little success (church equaling the Ls).

Can we identify some examples of this inworld? Sure! We have Furnation, a large group of islands, almost a continent in itself really. We can't also forget Anshe Chung, and her Nunchuck-only-knows number of sims and islands. These two are really self contained governments in themselves, and exhibit a lot of characteristics of a feudal kingdom. They have a central ruler who allows others to enter their domain on their terms, dictates the rules, and rely mostly upon their own power in their kingdoms that the Lindens are only called when absolutely needed. They run almost entirely closed societies, so much so that one person I conversed with was surprised anyone set up homes and lived on the mainland! All adfarms and griefers, he thought.

It's not that bad yet, because we're still in the stages where the majority floats around, but it won't be long before SL is carved up like a map of Europe. If and when privately hosted servers come about, it will just about cement into place the feuding kingdoms model of government. From there, it's anyone's guess when (and again, if ever) we realise the dream of Prok and others to have a truly Second World, with a democratic and fair government. If we're lucky, it'll be accelerated (as all things are in SL, it seems) and we'll see it within a few years. If we're not, then it could take more than a decade, assuming SL survives that long. I don't see anything I or any other singular person can do about it, even a rather large group would be marginalised and ignored. These kingdoms will simply ban you from their land, and then it's "No man, No problem".

But one of the better things about SL feudalization is that you, me, and Joe down the street can form our own society and put our ideas into action. Unlike RL, there's no fear of invasion if the group is properly watched over and maintained. It wouldn't encompass all of SL, but at this point I think that is a hopeless pipe dream, and that it could never work. At best, we would only garner probably 5% of the population to our democratic server. But in a feudal world, that's probably the best we can hope for. It's fracturing too fast and in too many places for us to patch it together now, and the Lindens are out of Gorilla Glue.

It's a depressing outlook, but it's the truth as far as I know it. I don't have hope for much of the grid, it'll probably spiral further out of control. The best hope for the future will lie in a group of islands with a liberal minded owner or an open source server run by the same. Of course, we could also hope for SL's King Arthur, who would unite the land and turn it around to good and peace. Provided we can find him. Or find a sword in a stone to prove it's him. And that he's the real deal and not some fantasy role player. Ah, those would be the days.

Okay, so we covered biology, government... Let's finish up with an easy one: SL's interpretation of art.

There's so many levels and categories. There's paintings and drawings, which are usually downloaded textures plastered on a prim so it's more like importing real life art. But it's still art.

The main route of art people follow in SL is the sculpture. This wasn't really an area that was too thought out, generally you produced a sculpture as part of a build or in your spare time as a doodle. And sculptures were fairly generic and bland, in an imitation of classical sculptures I suppose. Some did make unusual, interesting, and imaginative things but these were few and far between, and they never really caught on. Then we got Starax.

Starax made art for the sake of art. He sold his creations, but each was like a drug trip on steroids with a side of butter; you never knew if you were going to get Picasso Starax or Kindergarten-finger-paints Starax. Some things he made floored me for their complexity, design, and they way they tore your mind in a new direction. Others just have me scratching my head, and wondering if perhaps Starax the account is operated by more than one person.

Whatever his faults or virtues, it can be said that Starax brought Art in SL to a whole new level, namely that of a separate beast all its own. Name me four sculptors before Starax. Now name me four after him. I'll wager the latter is easier to answer than the former.

I will bring one issue with Starax to the forefront, in that by being as famous as he became he stifled the originality he brought to life. People simply copied his style, or in some extreme cases his actual works. Television has a similar effect in real life, where one creative program will kill anyone else's ideas for an original series. Just look at the unholy amount of sitcoms and survivor shows on the tube today. You can't tell me with a straight face you find them good or interesting, can you?

As always, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The massive influx of free accounts is quietly drowning out Starax and his 'style'. With this, we're seeing much more in the way of art, from traditional statues to abstracts and others. I'm holding out for a SL Pollock.

If there isn't I'll mimic one.