Sunday, February 24, 2008

Urban Mayhem

We think of cities today as high population densities, places where work and needs can be easily found. We think of limitless opportunity and success and concrete and glass canyons of downtown coupled with high crime and poverty in slums. Lots of people, lots of cars, lots of smog and haze. The best and the worst of humanity in six square miles.

The city today is a state unto itself. I believe there are more people living in New York City than Wyoming and a few other states combined. A city can be the majority of a state itself. Pennsylvania is described as solely Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Illinois is Chicago.

Is it sheer size that confers such authority and notoriety? Not likely. There are three cities in Texas with populations over one million. People can readily tell Dallas and Houston. What is the third? San Antonio, but you don't hear as much about it. Indianapolis has 700,000 people but most people think of it as nothing more than a football club. Clearly size, while an important part of a city, is not the sole determining factor.

An important question which may go into solving this question is what a city is supposed to do. Why is the city there in the first place? And this is really what makes a city. The most obvious answer is that above all else, a city provides a concentrated job market. People gather into a city because that is where the money is. As an example, examine Detroit. Not only is it positioned conveniently on the Great Lakes which are easily accessible through the St. Lawrence Seaway and other ports on the Lakes themselves, but for some time it was an industrial hub. People came to Detroit because the factories needed labor, and the people needed wages. Manufacturing plants converged on Detroit as a port for exports and as a rail hub for domestic business. Even before this, Detroit served as an importance crossroads on the Great Lakes. It was were the jobs were.

Compare that to Okely Township, Ohio. Have you heard of Okely? Not many have. Why is that? Because there's nothing in Okely. The only jobs in Okely are a small police station (fire station is managed by the county), the local school, and a shop that sells seven bladed razors and other assorted oddities. The people drive to other towns because there is nothing in Okely. Why do people live in Okely? Because it is peaceful and quiet. They can afford to live in a place they otherwise wouldn't be able to manage.

But some people can't afford that either financially or for other reasons. Perhaps for convenience. A fifteen minute commute by subway is much faster than an hour drive down an interstate. And that is where the city again comes into play. I'm looking for a job, perhaps I can't afford a car. A car is necessary to live in Okely. I can't live in Okely, or anyplace similar. So I find an apartment in a city. And the city grows.

There aren't any farms in a city. How will I eat? Well, grocery stores obviously. There you go, more jobs, more people, and the cycle goes on and on. It seems the job market makes or breaks a city. In these days, anyway. Cities today are radically different than in the past. We've seen that cities of today are hubs for employment.

But long ago, in the past, cities weren't seen as such. They were protection. A city would shore up behind a wall (which became today's concept of city limits and boundaries) and have some guarantee of safety from vandals, goths, and emos. Cities usually were the entire nation. Think of Rome. Or Athens. Jerusalem. All fortresses. Cities were the center of government and military power. In those days, they usually sprung around water sources (no aqueducts in those days, although the Romans pioneered the innovation) and so oasis, rivers, and lakes became the sites for most of these early cities. Sometimes this also doubled as a port which only boosted its importance.

Over time, it was realized that cities made terrible fortresses. Sanitation was poor. In the event of a siege it was worse, and food and drink could not be brought in. Some cities were starved to death by invasions, as Sparta did to Athens. With the advent of cannons, city walls were nothing more than symbols of defense, they became too easily breached. It was realized that cities were just too large a target and too hard to defend. Keeping the populace calm under a siege was all but impossible. And so we had the rise of separate forts and such, but that is tangential to our discussion.

These days, cities are jobs. Modern warfare dictates that you avoid the city. If you have to defend a city, you do so inside instead of trying to stave off the enemy at the border. Drag it out like the Battle of Berlin or Stalingrad. Terrible but effective.

As much as we'd like to think SL is oh-so-different, sometimes it follows real life, because what's good for the goose is good for the gander. In Second Life, sometimes things are different and sometimes they almost exactly mimic real life trends.

People wonder why SL has no large cities. And there are multiple reasons for this. The first is the limitations of the software itself. The most I have ever seen a sim hold is 80 avatars at once. If we adjoin four together into a box (with four corners), that means we can cram 320 avatars with varying results. There will be lots of lag and clients will crash. People will not want to stay. Look at all rentals. They are usually in quiet and smooth-running sims where a person can sit and do whatever they want in peace, far from the laggy clubs and griefers (which are becoming exceedingly rare).

And the other half of the equation is that there is no incentive for people to congregate into cities. There are no location specific jobs in SL. I can work on whatever I want where ever I want. If I have to build, say, a home, I don't have to travel and get lumber and hire workers and assemble it all into one spot. I can rezz the prims in a sandbox or on my land and slap it together right there. If someone hires me to script, I don't have to come to their shop and write it there. I don't have to ever meet them in person! I can shuttle it by giving inventory. And because of this you don't see people get together in cities.

There is a Linden sponsored city that follows the four corners idea and that city is almost perpetually deserted. Someone made something similar in Kissling with similar results. Cities in SL are doomed to fail until the software can handle greater amounts of people and there develops an incentive for people to gather as such. There is just no reason. And people don't want to be crammed, they want their privacy and peace.

Which is why I find it silly when people want to create a city in Second Life despite the examples mentioned above. I was at a Linden office hour where someone advocated using the new Department of Public Works to erect a new city for SL. It's doomed to failure. People will come to gawk at it and then it will be forgotten. Lost to the mists of time to be remembered only by historians and the occasional lost newbie. It's a waste of time and energy that could have been better spent elsewhere.

What would a city in Second Life accomplish? Nothing that would serve the residents. The Lindens want a city because as stated above a city is a landmark. It holds lots of people, and the build up it generates is a symbol of economic growth. The Lindens want a city for a trophy piece. Why do these residents want a city? Maybe they want to explore that style of building. Maybe they are urbanphiles and really want some street. The Department of Public Works is a salaried position, and the longer it would take to build something the more one would earn, and building a city with all the trappings of civilization could be a ceaseless task.

The Department of Public Works itself is something of a mystery as to how it will work. The Lindens have been taking suggestions on how it should be directed, but it has started arguments over whether to build infrastructure or content. One group advocates roads and park, and the other toys and such. What is public content? Building roads and parks and community areas would only take so much time and I'm sure it would not take long to pave the grid. On that same level, how can we make sure that the Linden approved content does not devalue the fruits of our labors?

Let's say someone in the DPW decides to make hair, so the newbies don't have to endure the default Linden hair. And it comes out beautiful. If the builder made a whole series of such as freebie content, you'd destroy the hair market in SL. Why am I going to pay for something that's coming for free? Anything these people make will destroy some small aspect of the SL economy. It would generate a mad rush as people try to get into the DPW just to maintain a living since it would be going around destabilizing markets. It wouldn't be some innocent newbie selling freebies. Newbies like that are chump change to the bigger stores. No, this would be like Anshe releasing tons of content for L$ 10 big (which you don't hear much about today, guess it wasn't that big a deal).

How would DPW go about making a city? They can't. They can make a build that looks like one and make objects that you might find in a city, but a fully functioning town is beyond their grasp. YOu just can't social engineer people into a city. It has to be a willing movement, because once you start forcing people into it, they'll leave. It won't be worth their time to be aggravated by the crappy fps they'd get in a city.

The DPW itself is something of an odd beast. As I said, no one has an idea of what kind of content to create. The Lindens ask the residents, and the answers are mixed. I think in the end, what is going to happen is that we're going to get whatever the whim of the DPW employee feels like at that moment. Heaven help us if one of them decides we need some more HUDs to make SL easier to learn. There's already enough of those to trip newbies up for the next century.

Taking polls from office hours is going to generate a limited view of SL in any case. The people at office hours are usually few, and usually the same crowd over and over and over again. Would you want me to dictate what content you'll see on your land? Because that is what's happening at these office hours. The Lindens are taking suggestions from these fifty or sixty people, and this is going to affect the entire grid of a hundred thousand or so people. I think a much better solution would be to do what they did for voice and have a poll when you log into Second Life. Put a box, and ask "What kind of Linden Lab sponsored content would you like to see?". That would represent the community much better than asking those few.

Linden Lab usually suffers from this lack of communication. They are working on it and it is much better than it used to be (when these kinds of updates would always seem to nail us on a Friday), but it's still a long way to go. I think the most important thing is we need to wean LL off this stupid 'community' idea. There are lots and lots and lots of communities. And don't hand me that "but all of SL unites into one community!!!1!" crap. That is like saying the Earth is a community.

I hear this crap from the Lindens all the time. "The community has spoken", they will reverently say, when in fact, no one gave a flying pig which way or the other. The only ones who cared were the seven dopes around the Linden office hour, so removed from the actual SL residents themselves that once, I think it was on the SLInsider, they honestly tried to say that only 5% or so of SL was about sex. The logic was that only the poseballs really were involved in sex. The bed, sheets, skybox, L$ exchanged for the 'escort', avatars, and clothes weren't made with sex in mind per se. And while that may be true (I highly doubt it), it doesn't disguise the fact that de facto they're being used in such a manner.

Once again, we see this fundamental disconnect from reality in Second Life. About the only thing the Lindens have nailed is ad farms. Ad farms were right to be banned. There is no freedom being stifled, because the definition is, I think, fairly clear and the only ones speaking up and protesting about this ban are mostly the ones who erected the stupid things for cash anyway. It's like complaining that the US government is taking away my right to yell fire in a crowded room, or my right to end someone's life.

The epitome of this disconnect with reality is manifest in their desire, or hope, or encouragement of a city in Second Life. They hold out hope against all the facts against it. Granted, they've laid off of the concept for a while now, because those sims are about as traveled as the oceans. I think that one four corner city they sponsored is pretty dead, and LL owns most of that land or subsidized it, so it cannot be making as much as land selling and tier on a normal parcel or island.

I wonder, honestly, how this Department of Public Works is going to play out. If the past record of Linden blessed things is any indication, it has a slim hope of any success.

Little Red X

Second Life, above all else, is a place I come to in order to escape real life and relax at the end of the day. If I cannot have fun in Second Life, then what is the point in logging in, anyway?

Sometimes my idea of fun contrasts with others. Case in point: I enjoy flying, driving, and boating across the grid even though I frequently hit and crash into sim seams, ban lines, and full parcels. To me, that's all part of the fun and excitement, wondering if the next seam will boot me out, or if that parcel is closed off. Rocketing across at 140 knots and trying to predict (or if it's your neighborhood, avoid) where the bad spots are really helps me calm down, it provides an outlet when I can't afford to go to the movies or out in general and television is boring and I get tired of reading websites.

I like to build things I want to build. Rarely does the thought "Can I make loads of money off of this" enter into the equation. I want a lighthouse, and by Nunchuck I will build one. Sometimes I give it away for free. Someone walks by, says to I "Hey, that's pretty cool" and I give'em a freebie. If I do sell something, it's usually because I'm strapped for cash or I sincerely believe the time and effort invested deserves compensation. The saxophone I built took me a month. It was a hoot to build, script, and create an animation (shoddy though it was) but with that kind of time investment, if you wanted one then you had to give me something in return. Unless you helped fund or build it, in which case I DID give it away for free (which rarely did they accept, I usually got paid anyway).

And nothing beats teasing people. The look and silence from a certain someone when you tell them you orbited seven people in their newbie community is priceless. Invert all the furniture so it's on the ceiling. Shoot prim babies into their house. Ah, good times. Nothing too serious, just enough to stir the pot and break up the day. I haven't done anything grid shattering in a long long time. I wonder if attempting to push a Linden into a river counts. I was well behaved at two out of three office hours in general, so maybe not. Plus, it was hard to push or shoot Blue Linden when he's sitting in a chair during the meeting.

I try to keep the serious business to a minimum. That's just not why I come into Second Life. It's an entertainment/socialization platform above all else. Almost all things in SL can be traced to this. 'Owning' land allows you to do fun things and host people without have the public intrude. The 'land' itself, while some say the representation is unnecessary, allows you to have some familiarity to stand one. Just imagine how disoriented you'd be and how steep the learning curve would be if we all just drifted out in some void like space rocks. Banning of ad farms and banks prevents the people from scams and ugliness (or at least the Linden definition) which in theory allows for more useful enterprises.

The problem in Second Life is how everyone defines fun. I've given my definition. Others have theirs. Griefers find enjoyment in crashing the grid and annoying people. Someone might see it as 'how high can I build myself? Can I become a Linden?' Like the game of Life, or Monopoly, in a virtual space. Some sit and chat and chat and dance and dance in clubs, never utilizing any kind of content or programming creation. It gives life to the phrase 'to each their own'. 'Your world, your imagination'. All that and a sack of beans.

Therein lies the problem. When one person's idea of fun is another's idea of not-fun, Second Life drama erupts. The most obvious example would be with griefers, but let's take a different route. Let's say I buy some land and use it as a factory floor, with prim parts and objects scattered about in the process of being completed into something coherent. Next door to me is a couple trying to recreate a real life Cabot Cove style home by the sea shore. I'm ruining their enjoyment of SL, I'm making a mess next door to their serene sunsets. And they ruin my use of Second Life, they complain and nag me where I cannot get any work done. IMs are exchanged and drama starts rolling.

I say this because there was an article on the SL Herald concerning why griefers are so abhorrent on the grid, and this journalist's theory was that they break immersion and snap people back into reality when sometimes they want to escape reality. They're just keepin' it real. But I have to disagree, because I think immersion isn't as deep as the writer would like to believe. Even the most addicted soul in SL acknowledges the two dimensional aspect of it and doesn't get hooked in like the matrix. No, I think it comes from clashing attitudes towards what SL is and the way it is used. Using the above example, I'm using it like AutoCAD or a factory while my neighbors are using it to chat, cyber, and enjoy scenery you can't easily get to in Alberta, Canada or Omaha, Nebraska.

This is really at the root of the problem. On one hand, you do not want a world of Forbidden Cities and red ban lines. In that case, you might as well opensource the grid and allow everyone to just make their own server away from the world. But you don't want complete freedom to go and do anything anywhere, that's just plain anarchy and everyone has a right to privacy. SL's growing pains and griefer troubles are the result of the Lindens and the several SL communities attempting to direct it into their ideal. They are struggling to find a virtual world where they can do whatever it is they are hoping to accomplish.

Sometimes unity is achieved by a shared loathing. Most people hate ad farms and most people were a tad disgusted by age-players. Most people were losing savings to inworld banks. This rallied people against these things. But you have things like camping chairs. Some people benefit from camping, the people who sit in the chair earn cash and the owner earns traffic. But to competitors, traffic draws away attention from their business and to sim owners it draws resources from their home or sandbox. Or look at the brew with the Department of Public Works. Should we build roads and parks or freebies and objects? And where should we put these? There is no clear rally point. Maybe, in the future, a strong position will form in one way or the other. People will rally about it.

Continuing from the original point, it seems most things are agreed due to a mutual hatred, as seen with banks, ad farms, and griefers. While this can be warranted, it is a true shame that we cannot seem to come to positive agreements more often. There is obviously always going to be conflict, but in Second Life we seem to allow debates to develop into skirmishes and wars with some parties being banned completely and drastic measures being taken. Must everything be extremist? I think if Second Life had to hold a Constitutional Convention on a Philadelphia island in a Independence Hall build (there is a Congressional Hall build out there, that would do too), we would never be able to draft a constitution. We would never compromise on any point. For everyone in Second Life, it's all or none. My way, or the highway directly out of here.

Some would agree that drafting a constitution would be dragging reality into what should be a radical new virtuality. Isn't that true of everything? When we create aliens, they're always two arms, two legs, a head with two eyes, a mouth, a nose, and two ears with some make-up to seem 'not human'. When we look for alien species, we look for water. We are always bounded by our limited perceptions in real life, and to be so aloof as to suggest that everyone would be as enthused as to challenge this familiarity is foolish. Such ambition will be better served when the server code is released. If such an idea were implemented, it better be some gimmick because I am not sure people would buy it. Maybe they will prove me wrong. That would be heartening.

And some cannot escape the confines of real life debates. Banks stand as one of the more glaring examples. You need to show LL an actual license and otherwise you cannot charge interest. Casinos and the ban on gambling. Age-play and child pornography. You have people striving to entice real life corporations into Second Life (although I would say the majority are opposed to this). You have arguments over capitalism and socialism. Weren't we supposed to leave all this behind us? Or is it like the visual? We require familiarity not only in the senses but in thought?

Sometimes real life intrudes for reasons beyond our control. Someone tiers down to afford paying the mortgage. A computer dies. They get too busy with work or school or romance and just do not have the time to visit their Second Life friends. Situations change as rapidly as they do in Second Life. There is nothing we can do about this. We can't support or force anyone to stay in Second Life, and those who want or need to leave should be allowed. If someone sits down and decides to leave, they're an adult and I expect that is their rational decision. They shouldn't be cajoled or coerced into coming back. That is a kind of selfishness. It doesn't mean we can't be sad or disappointed, but to campaign and scheme to draw them back is wasted time and effort. And in the event of its success, you have someone resentful, only logging in 'because they HAVE to'.

And sometimes people draw in real life for reasons known but to Nunchuck and themselves. Perhaps that is their hobby, to see which real life institutions can be drawn in. Ben Duranske applies real life law into Second Life, I believe he was one of the more vocal in noting most SL banks as glorified Ponzi schemes. Prokofy is constantly in a waltz with regards to resident government or Linden action or many many other Second Life things. Other people bring in various other realities. As I recall, there have been many attempts at socialism in SL. Governments and market systems, it's all been advocated in SL at one time or another. Politicians set up small campaigns or drop griefer cubes on their opponents' islands and builds. Somehow in someway, real life gets dragged in.

I don't think many people appreciate this. The Lindens are silent. Often, I think the Lindens are not really Overlords, or governance, or friends, or internet admins as much as they're just trying to make everyone happy. I don't think they want much to do with maintaining SL, they want to play around with their creation and goof around with their residents. Let's face it: governing the world is a drag. It sounds great on paper but it's been four long years for the Lindens, and the complaints are getting to them. If you've noticed, most of the recent policies have occurred in the seven months and I believe one of the earliest rulings was against copybot.

Ah, Copybot. Here you can pinpoint the slow descent into tyranny, as Intlibber dubbed it. Copybot is complex. It stole content but was coded somewhat legitimately. Linden Lab had to take a stand, to not act would erode the concept of intellectual property rights that LL so often touts as one of the main selling points of SL. So they found everyone who created one and banned them. Was this necessary? I do not think so. Why take the time to ban each and every incident of Copybot when it would be just as easy to change the code so as to render Copybot unusable? No bannings needed when the problem itself no longer exists. No, instead they decided to nail each on a case-by-case basis, and that only if anyone complained.

Age play was a kind of split. Some were using it for child porn and others simply as something different, as natural as Torley being a watermelon or some newbie being a dinosaur. I like to think many cases were innocent. But the allegations into it were too much and Linden Lab laid down the law. The joke is that the age players, like the Gors and Furries, tend to stay within themselves and so hardly any were reported. They went underground. Probably a moot point in the end as Linden lab forgot its own policy and everything is pretty much as it was. On a side note, one of the lame answers given by the Lab was that it was to protect the children (this was given for age registration as well). Doesn't anyone stop to think why kids are on the grid? Isn't that, I dunno, against the ToS? But I digress.

And that began the descent. But they are really caving to what the populace wants, and the populace wants immediate and visible action, with blog posts and reports on the police blotter! People were frustrated when it seemed like the grid was the Wild West and vigilante justice. Perhaps that is where a lot of the Linden jokes, and Linden cracks, and just a general tone of derision towards them. People got fed up. They felt abandoned.

So they turn and bring in real life to ease it. Admittedly, no one can escape real life law. As long as the servers are in the United States, they will obey US law. If we moved them to Canada, then we'd have to deal with Canadian laws. And someone, I suppose, has to bring some reality into Second Life and remind us of these laws, lest it be shut down while under investigation. A shut down would cripple Second Life and I do not know if it could recover. The economy is already nailed with rolling restarts and those do not even shut down the entire grid! It wouldn't be pleasant for all involved.

People, being people, will never escape their quirks and issues and faults. That is an obvious statement. If you're a self centered jerk, you'll remain one in Second Life. These are the kinds of things that transcend real life and second life. Can this be changed? Most certainly, but it takes a lot of effort that most people do not want to expend and time they do not want to waste. So we have to operate on the assumption they will not change. And where does that leave us? It leaves us with another real life method dragged into SL. It's called burning the bridge. We can only destroy the bridge. This doesn't mean we can't communicate, heaven forbid! But you shouldn't have to deal with them ALL THE TIME if you can't stand the person.

You are probably thinking about situations where you just drift apart, and that is fundamentally different. Interests converge and diverge and cross and separate, these things happen. The key difference between drifting and burning is that when two old friends meet after drifting, it feels like you've never separated at all. Just like old times. Burning is a definite stance, and you're polite but firm. You and the other person will just never work it out, and in the interest of both parties the lie should be dragged behind the barn and shot.

And sometimes this can happen when one person begins to have a different definition of fun. Fun changes. Two friends can have fun building their brains out, and then one decides to start going commercial with their work. Perhaps (all hypothetical) he goes overboard, and suddenly he gets angry when the other wastes time making pineapple launchers and candy cane houses, when the enterprise is in prim furniture. For weeks it will be strained and then they will come to a head. A bridge will be burned. It happens far too often to loads of people in this grid of ours. It happens in real life, but something about Second Life, with its lack of more human gestures and intonations (even voice can mess up what a person is trying to convey) it makes the situation worse as we cannot tell things that come second nature in real life. Is this person being cold and callous or attempting to do you a favor? You cannot tell. You can only hope they give you some clue to their intentions.

I think such things should be made clear from the start. Am I a means to your end, or someone you pal around with when everyone else is away? Tell me straight so I don't built misconceptions around our 'friendship'. Don't lead me along a string. I'm not stupid, and you're not a genius. I am going to catch on.

Perhaps, if the person wanted to make amends, it would help to try to self-examine.
What am I doing wrong? And pay attention to exactly what the other person is saying. Just what are they trying to tell me? I haven't listened before, let's open up now. Or maybe not.

People get too wrapped up into SL business. They need to sit back and meditate for a while. A friend of mine built a pool. She regularly just floats in it. Logs in, and floats. Tried it once. It is kind of mesmerizing, she did pick particularly life like floating poseballs. If only everyone had something similar. Just one day, go out on some Linden Sea in a boat, and just watch the sunset/sunrise in Windlight. It doesn't have to conform to my idea of relaxation, but just something away from the hustle and bustle. Running an event? Stay on schedule but allocate some time off. A half-hour at least.

They say that after four hours of instruction, your brain shuts down and you might as well go and get some rest after that. I am not sure if that applies to working as well, but an average work day is eight hours plus lunch unless you're doctor on call or something along those lines. But is there anything so pressing in SL that requires you to be on call 24-7? I don't think so. There is some truth to the saying "All work and no play makes Ruth a dull girl". Some time should be set aside for goofing around and taking it easy. If you have to, log off and go make some dinner. Prepare something extravagant. It's easy to do.

Just click that little red 'X'.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blotter Break-Down

I found the police blotter. It is now the "Incident Management Report" which I suppose better reflects the purpose and aim of the page. Instead of the usual format, I decided to go Microsoft Excel on y'all and load up some graphs I generated from the blotter reports, detailing 49 incidents over the course of February 16-18, 2008.


This pie chart displays the breakdown of the Violation Type. Alts is the improper usage of alternative avatars, which entails using them as an anonymous harrasser and putting in improper info on the sign-up page.

We can see that the clear majority of the bunch is Assault, followed by Disturbances and Harassements, and the rest make up the last quarter or so.

MORE PIE MORE PIEAnd here we have a pie chart of the actions taken against these violations. One day suspensions predominate, Warnings making up another third and the remaining quarter involving the rest of the actions.

There is a problem interpreting these two pie charts, though. While they look very pretty, they really don't tell us much, do they? They tell us volumes of each set of data but otherwise are fairly useless. I'd figure assault would be the top of the number of violations, and so on. Which is why I cooked up this last chart:


Voila! A breakdown of actions taken per type of violation! Dark blue is Assault, red Disturbances, green Harassment, purple Alts, cyan Indecency, and Orange Intolerance. Sounds like breakfast cereal

We can see Intolerance and Alt Abuse land you pretty heavy judgements, as both almost always result in 7+ day suspensions. Disturb and Assault all you like as the worst you will likely get is a 3 day vacation. Indecency can be lumped in there too. Harassement, that's a mixed bag, as some infractions are merely warned and other result in seven day bans. Since the overwhelming majority of Harassment warnings concerned Ad Farms, I wouldn't risk it.

Here you can view the graphs in a non-Blogger molested resolution.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Analyzing Phylogenic Relationships of Various Animal Serum Via LDH and Globulin Profiles of Their Tissues

This study was to examine and determine phylogenic relationships between various animals using electrophoresis results of their serum protein and Lactate Dehydrogenase isoenzyme activity. Using Bradford assays to normalize protein concentrations and gel electrophoresis for serum and LDH protein separations, it was determined that chicken serum was lacking in serum and LDH proteins while distinct bands were observed and noted for the mammalian serum with separate distrubtions of the LDH protein family in liver, thymus, heart, muscle, and serum. We concluded from the results that each animal sera displayed similarities in protein fingerprinting with chicken, horse, and rat being the outliers. Each tissue was also noted for its unique concentrations of each LDH subfamily Using our knowledge of the evolution of these species we found the evolutionary appearance of each protein.

The primary method of protein separation and analysis was native electrophoresis using agarose gels of 1.2% in Tris-glycine buffers of pH 8.6. Native gels measure both the size and charge of the proteins being studied, in this case those present in the animal serum and LDH in muscle and thymus tissue. (Steinmetz, et al. 2007).The proteins under study are not denatured and are used in their ‘native’ conformation as the name of the gel suggests.

Separation is achieved on the basis of size and electrical charge. The amino acid composition of a given protein determines the size and charge of the overall molecule and since the proteins under study are not denatured they fully retain their charges and chemical pH due to conformation shape. Under an electrical current the proteins will migrate to the anode and the distance traveled will be determined by the charge of the protein in the buffer solution. This will be heavily influenced by the pH of the buffer as higher pH will cause acidic proteins to be positively charges and vice versa (Wang, Jiou, et al 2007). Another influence in separation will be the size of the molecule in question. Larger proteins will be less motile than similarly charged smaller proteins, as the matrix of the gel will inhibit their movement down the lane. Small changes in protein size will have large consequences in separation(Abbott, et al 2006).

Staining involves binding Coomassie Blue dye to the protein. Coomassie Blue binds to the hydrophobic regions of a protein which is found on all proteins and thus is useful as a universal dye (Winkler et al. 2007). The more protein present in a region of the gel the more Coomassie Blue will appear. Once a gel has been stained with Coomassie Blue, alcohol and acetic acid are used to bind the protein coomassie blue compound in place while washing away excess dye, yielding the visible results of electrophoresis (Wang, Xuchu, et al. 2007).

Bradford assays are useful in obtaining a desired protein concentration and checking that concentration is correct. Coomassie Brilliant Blue is used to bind to the proteins and measured for the level of absorbency. If the solution is successful then absorbency should reach near 595 nm and a curve can be generated by plotting the absorbency versus the concentration of protein in the serum (Bradford 1976). This curve can be used to determine concentrations of proteins in unknown sera and to adjust it to a desired concentration. Using this one can create uniform concentrations of sera for electrophoresis, which in this lab was 5 mg/ml. This is vital for ensuring accurate and viable results during electrophoresis.

Serum is the plasma component of blood lacking clotting factors. Serum proteins can be broken into five distinct categories: Albumin, alpha 1, alpha 2, beta, and gamma globulins. Each has a designated purpose within the serum and is uniquely suited to that function. Albumin is usually used in the body as a transport mechanism for minerals, hormones, and nutrients. It also helps to maintain the proper balance of diffusion in the bloodstream plasma. Gamma globulins function as antibodies (Torpy, D. J. and Ho, J. T. 2007). Alpha 1, alpha 2, and beta globulins serve as transporters for lipids, proteins, and iron respectively (Agnello et al. 2007)(Yang, Kun and Sun, Yan 2007). The concentrations of each of these proteins is determined primarily by the species of animal and its current physiological condition, as sickness can alter the levels of proteins especially the antibody gamma globulins (Saleh, et al. 2007). Together these proteins constitute the majority of the proteins found in most mammalian serum.

Lactate Dehydrogenase is the main anaerobic energy enzyme in cells. It catalyzes pyruvic acid into lactic acid, releasing extra electrons to further break glucose down into ATP (Skory, et al. 2007). There are multiple subfamilies of LDH each of which is a separate isoenzyme of the basic protein, the primary ones being LDH 1 and LDH 5. LDH 5 is found in skeletal muscle and its conformation allows it to efficiently process lactic acid while LDH 1 is common to heart muscle and is not very efficient at anaerobic respiration. This reflects the needs of the muscles in which each resides: heart muscle must always pump blood for the survival of the organism as well as being close to arteries directly from the lungs and so does not rely upon anaerobic respiration, while the skeletal muscle frequently has to operate within the limits of oxygen capacity for exercise and uses LDH often. (Semenza, et al. 1996).

Protein fingerprinting allows one to identify proteins provided knowledge of the properties of said protein and conditions and rigging of the gel is set properly. This depends upon the pH of the buffer and the isoelectric point (pI) of the protein, as well as the gel. The isoelectric point is the pH at which the protein is electrically neutral and this is primarily determined by the buffer and how distant it is to the pI of the proteins under study (Pierre-Alain et al. 2006). The gel contributes in its porosity and thickness, a gel that is heavily porous will allow faster movement of larger proteins and thus will affect the results of protein fingerprinting (Hu, et al. 2004).

Phylogeny can be deduced from analysis of each completed electrophoresis gel. Phylogeny is the study and examination of evolutionary relationships between organisms. In our study this focused upon proteins, specifically serum proteins and LDH. Greater relatedness of the two species in question will be shown as greater similarity in protein expression and by extension of the amino acid sequence a genetic relationship as shown by electrophoretic separation of each serum (Blouin, et al. 2005). In addition, the presence or absence of a protein can also be utilized in this manner especially when considering the differences between classes and species of vertebrates (Levesque, et al. 2004). Accuracy is imperative as errors can lead to incorrect identification of phylogenic relationships (Teeling et al. 2005).

The first step in this lab was to conduct a Bradford Assay. Using varying concentrations of Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA), and a spectrometer, we were able to create a BSA curve to find an unknown samples protein concentration. In the next portion of the lab, we conducted an electrophoresis of various animal sera. We diluted various sera to the same concentration and ran them through an electrophoresis gel, in order to observe what levels of various proteins were present in each serum sample. The next part of the lab involved the electrophoresis of different lactate-dehydrogenase (LDH) isoenzymes alongside different animal sera. We ran two different LDH isoenzymes and various animal sera through an electrophoresis gel, to observe the varying content levels of the various LDH isoenzymes among the different animal species. The final component involved the electrophoresis of different LDH isoenzymes, but this time it was done so alongside samples from various tissues from the same animal. The LDH isoenzymes and the various tissue samples were run through a gel, to observe the different levels of the various isoenzymes among different tissues from the same animal.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Last Step

Everyone says that Pluto is the greatest planet in the universe.

I am here to tell you it is not.

First off, the drive there is nothing you have ever seen before. I drove there alone, but if I had gone with a few friends I think we would have been at each other's throats. You can only listen to Gary Neuman tapes for so long before you start hearing the voices. They whisper to you and say things like "Bob's beakers break less than boring better brands, now only ten bucks!" or "You will never find an exact value of Pi", and my personal favourite: "You should never sleep". You can't shut those guys up unless you have some .45 aspirin.

Gas stations along the way? They're gonna rip you off seven ways to Easter Sunday. Some days, I siphoned gas off some poor sap who left his car unattended. Some days I had to push until I hit the next asteroid. Night's always good. You can sneak and steal some from the stations, attendants usually sleep off the six day nights. Brutal but you gotta do what you gotta do and if you want to reach Pluto, well, sometimes you gotta do things that you don't tell in polite company.

Food is almost as bad as gas. I don't like to talk about it.

Lotta folks don't make it. They hit Uranus or Neptune and settle down like an interplanetary Utah. Some are drifting mummified, either opening the hatch on the advice of the voices or running out of gas and food and slowly succumbing. Space ain't for the weak. Or the unlucky.

Reporters, back in the days when you could still enjoy a greased fatty burger and pay 90 cents per gallon for gas, used to ask those crazy gits scaling Everest why. Why kill yourself and others to plant a stupid dollar store flag on some rock? And they'd smile like a kid who got an A in finger painting and say, "It was fun" or "Because the mountain was there". In those days it was new and exciting and no one else was there. Just you, alone, with your hypothermia above the world. Nowadays, it's cake. A tram rides you up, you stay at the hotel on the top for a week, buy a photo and a postcard at the gift shop and fly home.

Pluto is the new Everest. A place where you can be alone in this civilization of ours. All alone, no noise, no lights, no gravity. Just you and space and it goes for miles and you realize why you came. You can't express that to others. It's like war. They have to be there.

Some come to die. They come outta the car, take in the experience and pop the latch on the helmet. It's humane I suppose. No sitting around hooked to a machine fighting till your body can't fight no more. And time flies slow and you watch your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren weep and moan. Not for some. Pop that helmet latch and embrace the sweet kiss of oblivion. You go out and wake up dead. Gravity's so low you fall off eventually and your body become a time capsule drifting, telling the universe that you existed till you hit a star or a black hole or a string and poof. Vaporized.

Sometimes, every ten years or so, you come to Pluto on this magic cycle and you see the Titan fleet go by Charon. You watch and you think "No way anything could be that big". Took years to build those ships in orbit around Mars, and these days they never see their birth planet. They fly out and mine the Kuiper belt for hydrogen, methane, and others and come back to Uranus to drop it all off to feed the appetites of industry. Back and forth ten years at a time. Whole families go off in them and born and raised and die without ever seein' the Earth, or any city for that matter. They're almost a separate race, a class apart. I don't envy them. Their lives, just a honeycomb of steel and space. Man gotta have some gravity, air, rock for a natural life and a ship ain't natural.

And they glide silently by. Most folks never think about that kinda thing. I was lucky, when I went I caught the fleet goin out for another run. Most beautiful thing I ever did see since, but it ain't enough to save Pluto. The god-forsaken rock it is.

Some crazies goin to build a town here. I expect it to die, the voices and supplies will kill it in the womb. But someday, Pluto'll be Everest and someplace else will be Pluto and the Titan fleet will be a flyin' somewhere else when they devour the Belt.

It's so quiet here, I admire that. It was hell and it's hell being on Pluto, I grudgingly accept that, I hate that. I'm here again despite that, I guess because why some people came back to Everest or the Moon. Quiet, Peace, feeling of being on the edge of man and being a part of something expanding, something larger. So much larger and ya so small and tiny and that larger is in a larger universe and god only knows what is larger than that.

And so I pull the latch on my helmet...

Change Is In The Air

...And I'm not talking about me.

Today, I logged into the Second Life webpage. And I notice that the police blotter is no longer avalible. It's gone. Wiped off the face of the earth. The one link we had to judging any trend in punishments is gone. We will never know any details now of abuse report actions. With the police blotter, it was inept and vague and hilariously small considering the overall volume of AR judgements but it did provide a general idea of what the Lindens were going after at the time. If it is still around then it is tucked away somewhere far from the eyes of the general public and any kind of media. And that's a crying shame. For one, I can no longer copy the current police blotter and poke fun at each entry. And for another, it indicates that Linden Lab is once again throwing things down a memory hole in the hopes that no one will notice it gone or to avoid embarrasment (and some of the actions and ARs acted upon were fairly stupid).

On the bright side, I now have an option of seeing through the website which regions are down. The link takes me to.... the support website. Great. Just what I wanted to know: how to teleport off of a region that is restarting and how to tell if it is restarting in the first place. I guess it was too much to ask that we be allowed to see if our home sim is crashed out or not. Maybe the list would be far longer than the police blotter's twenty-five entries. In retrospect, perhaps it only records the lands you own and when they are down. I dunno.

Since the last LL economy report was hopelessly brain dead (LOL GROWTH!!1) I am now going to keep a running tab of the economic statistics from this date forward every week for the SL economy, and I'll run it side by side with the Linden released figures. Obviously, I expect to be called 'biased' or 'unreliable'. We'll see.

I was going to rant about mentors, but upon reflection I decided against it. I figure I have made my opinions on the matter known, and what I was going to say, while offering new material, is the blog equivalent of beating a dead horse.

Well, that's what I've noticed changed on the SL blog since the past two months. I can't wait to see what it will be like in April!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Rezz Day Introspection

Last night was Jurin's Rezz day party. It's amazing to think that someone who has accomplished and sacrificed so much for the 'community' (such as it is) was still under a year old in Second Life. Then I turn around and realize it is 2008 and the people from 2006 and 2007, considering stupid and resource hogging newbies when I started, are becoming part of the old farts hanging around the grid.

One noticeable feature was the sheer amount of Lindens present. I saw Mia, Joppa, and Kate and I am sure there were others that I missed. The old joke is that Jurin is Linden-elect, only waiting to be sworn in to the Almighty Lab. Who knows, it could be possible. But then I really thought long and hard about it (all of twelve minutes!) and I realized that it would never ever happen. You probably think I am out of my mind but let me lay out some reasons why before you tear me apart.

1) Jurin is Nice

Jurin is a kind soul. She spends nunchuck only knows how much tier on newbie communities. I've almost never seen her utter a nasty remark on anyone. Hell, she donated land for the Chrine at Windermere. She's not perfect by any means, but considering the average behavior of people on the grid she's almost like Jesus.

And that is why she cannot be a Linden. Lindens are evil and cruel. They delight in banning people. They eat babies. They crash your sims when you are trying to host a party and they hit you with lag when you are trying to build or do something productive. Jurin would never be able to do that. She does not have that capacity. I've tried my hardest but she won't even accidently on purpose push someone off a cliff or cage them. It's just not in her. And unfortunately, being mean is a requirement for being a Linden.

2) Jurin has a soul in the first place

Everyone knows the Lindens are something like the Borg. The Borg, for those living under a rock and have never heard of Star Trek, are a race of machine cyborgs who mutilate people and turn them into drones of themselves and they do this until you kill them or they assimilate everything. No one in the Borg has any spirit, they all walk, talk, and think alike.

Lindens are like Borg. They do not have souls. They all somewhat walk, talk, and think alike. If you have a disagreement with one Linden and beg another one to review the case, they will certainly agree with each other and ban you anyway. They don't have souls, that is how they can be so cruel (see point #1). Studies are underway examining if they start with souls and lose them or if they really do lack a soul from birth.

Jurin has a soul. Therefore, she will never be a Linden.

3) Lindens are Stupid

Lindens are not very bright. Take a look at some of the policies and actions they have taken (or not taken). For centuries they placed ad farms under 'freedom of speech'. After three years and thousands of dollars in exhortion by ad farmers, the other day they FINALLY banned them. I bashed my head against the desk, saying "Took long enough took long enough". It's mind numbing. They are very intelligent (coding the world ain't easy and neither is passing college as I assume they all have), but very obtuse when it comes to actually interacting with this world of ours.

Jurin has a brain. I guarantee she would have taken a stance on ad farms in March 2007, a month after she signed up. And that's just a single issue. Who knows what other issues would have been done and over with Jurin at the helm? She doesn't need Ph.D in Informatics and Computer Engineering, just some common sense.

4) Jurin spends time among the common folk

Jurin will actually talk to and engage other people in conversation. That is, she makes friends outside of the scope of her work. THis is underheard of among Lindens. They only come inworld to grace us with their presence at office hours, and even then you can't be sure if they are really listening or just sitting there AFK. Jurin listens and actually communicates with people.

5) Because Jurin Linden sounds pretty awkward

Jurin Linden does not quite roll off the tongue as well as Jurin Juran.

There you have it. I believe the evidence is more than sufficient. Given the above, Jurin can never be a Linden. To be honest, you could really use this list with pretty much anyone and this is probably why there are so few Lindens.

And for the Linden Bots reading this (because I know Philip trawls the internet and examines all SL blogs), yes. I totally went there.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Status Quo

Second Life is notorious for being flaky. It crashes, stalls, red maps you.

But then I thought about the rest of my computer.

My computer runs Vista and it is a struggle everyday which I think I am losing. It regularly cuts my internet connections for little to no reason other than I put it into hibernate mode, or it's 6 AM in the morning, or maybe because I won the crap lottery. Sometimes it blue screens me and drains my battery in class restarting itself. It takes forever to get going upon start up, even though the largest program I have downloaded so far is Second Life, if you discount Vista itself which is about eight or nine gigs of memory. Sometimes it freezes up. I can only assume that the stress of waking up is just too much for poor little Vista. I wouldn't mind the other stuff but when I can't connect to the internet, it annoys me. Half of the point of a computer is the ability to connect to the web and surf.

I used to use AIM and so I have it downloaded. I loved the old AIM interface and package. It was small, simple, and ran extremely fast. The new one is bloated and full of useless features like the lame wallpaper background. It's permanently in my start-up folder and it perpetually crashes upon loading. It takes ten minutes to log in, and it crashes on occasion. I'd uninstall it but for some reason it keeps coming back. I've resigned myself to never seeing it disappear.

The new Microsoft Office is always hitting me on the .docx and .pptx and whatnot. By the way, what is the deal with that anyway? Is this office some new 'experimental' version? How many new features can you add to a spellchecking word processor? All my friends use XP and so there's always compatiablitiy issues. Even when I convert it to a regular .doc .

Gmail is usually reliable except when it isn't. Is it me or does it stay logged on? Sometimes it borks attaching a document and angry professors, group members, and employers demand to know the joke. Why does it still keep my trash after I've deleted it? Or my spam? Of what significance does Google believe this is to me? Sometimes Gmail IMs get to me and sometimes they go nuts and are sent as regular email. It also stacks my email so I often lose the original message I'm looking for and then I'm forced to use the gmail searcher which is clumsy and often brings up every single message in the inbox anyway.

My school's webmail and WebCT BB Vista are regularly down. The usual excuse is 'too many users online'. What? How do you build a system in a relatively large campus that cannot handle the expected load of users? Especially a service that they must use. Jeez, imagine if electricity cut out due to too many users. Although that happens in Southern California or somewhere. Plus, both systems always trigger the pop-up alerts no matter how many times I shut it off/allow it.

Even blogger stinks. I can't add weblinks, spellcheck, or add photos because I did something. I don't know what. This is the sixth freaking time it has done this and it never ceases to cheese me off.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, that as often as Second Life is down, that this is kind of the norm from my perspective. Sadly enough.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Now You're a Linden!

I'm curious. If you became a Linden right now, what would you do? How would you exercise? What would you concentrate on, given your abilities? So much power, so little time!

Far too often people lay waste on a Linden without realizing that particular one has the authority of a baked potato and is just trying to earn the day's bread and butter. Take as an example Kate Linden who thankless task is in world issues. I'd personally hate to have that job, as she gets all of the complaints of whining without being able to actually do more than say "Gee, guess you shouldn't do that."

So, just randomly thinking this Thursday what you'd do as a Linden.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Book of Nunchuck VII

As Ruth stretched across Second Life, even as the universe was collapsing and reforming around them, Qeosi who was ever the trickster was thinking of a scheme to both destroy Ruth and gain the Femur, that his people may use it to grant themselves souls and be liberated from their twilight existance possessing neither the brillant light of Nunchuck's people nor the dark night of the Griefers and Lindens. This was his chance.

Fi-Suu continued to throw his armies into Ruth's merciless assaults, despairing as each failed. And Philip lay shocked at what he had wrought with intentions pure.

And Ruth herself rose in the middle of this hell storm, rending the earth from the sky and moving water into the heavens and stones from the heavens. All contorted itself to fit her world and her imagination.

Yet even in this moment Qeosi hatched a plan. It relied upon a trait that all humans possess. And it relied upon the nature of the Ony.

"Oh Ruth, thou so powerful. Unlike our enemies the Akelhians, The Ony acknowledge the true claim of God upon you, and humbly vow to serve your will," and at this statement, Qeosi ordered his armies to stand down. Momentarily, Ruth paused, though, and said, "Think I a fool? Nay, I doubt to the core this submission, for with the Femur I can see clearly the designs you have laid upon me."

"Alas, I am saddened that you doubt me and my people, and I ask why," exclaimed Qeosi, "I am not a stupid creature and I can see clearly the way this battle is going to go. Wiser am I than my nemesis Suu the Fi-Akelhian, and most beneficial to both of us to submit to you." Ruth eyed him sharply. "Should I believe you, you who threw Fi-Suu and his armies off on a wild chase, you who stabbed Sipte in the back, you who even now attempt to rob me of my power? Nay, your dishonesty flows from you like the stink of a pig's manure and your trouble precedes you."

"Oh Ruth the Mighty, allow me to prove my will to serve you. Give me but a test to gain your trust and I will do it."

"Qeosi, leader of the Ony, this task I give to you: Give me the head of Fi-Suu and end his foolish quest to destroy me. Destroy the akelhians by destroying their leader, gullible fools that they are, tricked by Sipte father of the Ony into doing his will and furthering his greed. Do this and I will be satisfied."

"Thank you, my Almighty Queen," and so Qeosi bowed and began his work. He and his top general and friend, Nadrin-dran, left to make a plan as to satisfy her request and gain the Femur. Time was short for each minute many more died or worse, wiped from all existance past, present, and future. Time ripped to reach her demands.

Qeosi flew to the land's most legendary builder, Rickyticky78, and was much surprised and yet not surprised to see an Ony land upon his door. "You who have built so much, and with such magic, I ask of you a request and with great haste." And Qeosi told him what it was he desired, and it was made and scripted.

Next, he flew to Fi-Suu, who was much surprised. "You! You who started this war and allowed this foolish quest to be thrust upon me and this demon god, dare ask me to follow you. You who has tricked me once are asking trust in this plan of yours?" Yet, in his wisdom Fi-Suu saw that indeed it was the only way, and so he grudgingly submitted to Qeosi's orders, on the vow that later he would have his head.

They took Fi-Suu, and cut off his silver, glistening, and soft wings of magnificent steel and gray. They tore off his robes of satin and megaprims and gave him the cloth of an Ony, and they darkened his skin with the earth and dyes so that he matched the Ony, and indeed Fi-Suu's generals could not tell who it was, and nearly killed him. And thus Qeosi's plan was put into action.

They took the table with a replica of Fi-Suu's head upon it and presented it to Ruth. It was as if Qeosi had indeed cut off the head of the noble Fi-Akelhian. With the script running so, it gave off the immistakable light of an Akelhian, and mimicked it in such a manner that Akelhians, unaware of the plot, laid down their arms and prayed to Nunchuck knowing they were bound for Vivenshia. And Ruth looked upon this, and boomed, "Take me for a fool? This is but the poor imitation of an Akelhian's head! Despite the light it gives, it is but a pale and hollow light. You have failed me, Qeosi, in both task and expectation. I expected more trouble from you than this poor poor attempt."

Qeosi fell to his knees and declared, "Oh Great Ruth, there is no hiding from your power. We lament to inform you that we tore Fi-Suu to pieces! He is no more! But so ashamed we were of failing your orders, that we created this lowly attempt to appease you and spare us your wrath. Oh spare us!" And at this, Ruth delighted, for she thought that indeed in these creatures she had minions to serve her in her visions. And so she let them live, and smiled upon them and called them blessed.

Then Qeosi, after some silence, came to Ruth in all innocence and said, "Ruth, your burden is heavy and will only become greater. It is not fair that you, the new ruler of all worlds, should have to carry the weight of the universe upon your shoulders for all of forever." Ruth cast a steely eye upon him, "And what would you have me do, Qeosi of my people? Surely you cannot think that you should hold this Femur? Even the lowliest knows that to do so would imbue you with power as great as mine, and that I cannot allow."

Qeosi smiled with disbelief. "Oh you jest, oh great one! Never would I think to make so bold a proposition! Forgive us for our ambiguity! Nay, instead, let us carry you, recline upon our shoulders! Why should you stand upon the world so tensely when we can carry you and rest your weary legs?"

And Ruth thought upon this, and decided it was a good idea. And so the Ony gathered together and arranged themselves as if a giant sofa, and Ruth laid down upon it and continued her work.

However, what she had not foreseen (and perhaps due to fate) was that by touching her they gained part of her power. And a fraction of that power is infinite, for the power through it is infinite, and inifnity can never be fractionated. In essence, this oversight gave Qeosi and his Ony the unlimited power of the femur they had orginially thirsted for long ago. It was right there in their finger tips that lay the power to give them the souls and essence, the spirit and U, to peacefully live in Second Life.

And having gained such power, Qeosi saw that the world would never be happy unless he saw it shaped to his will. For after Ruth was subdued and peace and wishes restored, would not some new terror come and upset the land again? With this power, Qeosi could see that the universe could be bent to his liking and that he could lead it to a true future of peace the likes of which had never been known before. It was all there and he had but to close his mind to his people and his previous wishes, sacrifice what he had believed he had to do for the greater good. The Ony and Akelhians groaned and wept for they feared they had but created another Ruth and that the two new gods would do battle and destroy Second Life at an accelerated pace.

But then, Qeosi laughed. Not a frightful and ominious laugh, but one of a deep and jovial soul, of one who has heard his good friend tell a clever joke. It resounded through the universe with the echoes of a Sunday church bell, breaking the fear and refreshing the soul. And this laughter reached Ruth, and the light tones and gentle timbers of this laugh was as a shriek into her ears, and she wailed for the beauty and simplicity of it. Qeosi laughed some more, and with but a devilish grin stole from Ruth the Femur and with it all of her powers. She lay weakened upon the desecrated earth, and there was more damage to be told but that shall be for a later ancedote.

People, Akelhians, and Ony gathered around Qeosi in awe wondering how he had broken the sirien call of the Femur's power that had so ensnared Ruth. "What devilry did you cast this time, foul Qeosi?" Fi-Suu snarled. "My good and dear friend, I cast nothing magical or otherwordly. I too fell victim to Its mind corrupting power. But what may be my greatest trick was pulled. For it is: Being an Ony without the spirits of this world coursing through my veins I could not be as swayed as thee to the images of power cast before me. Therefore I had to be the one to cast the Femur from Ruth. Any soul bound to this plane is bound to the Femur, but we Ony, bastards of the avatars and created from their garbage to live but to serve and to exist but never love, we cannot feel or think of such things. And so the Femur could not hold me under its power though doubtless it would like to try. Not everything depends upon force and numbers, Fi-Suu, and you would do well to remember that." And at this Fi-Suu sneered.

Qeosi then gave the Femur a mightly swing which was felt all the way into Vivenshia. And the power stirred Nunchuck for he had still remembered and kept his promise made long ago before time and nature. And so he loomed over the heavens, looking down upon the wastes of war, and cried, "Sersiously guys, WTF? I leave you alone for a few millienia. I give you untold prosperity and happiness and yet still it is not enough for you my children. You are unfit for the wonders I have blessed you with." And so he took from them all that he had blessed upon them. "Now you shall live as you did before, slaving under the sun and exhausted under the moon. Never again shall prosperity come as easy, nor happiness stay eternal for in this age I have witnessed that you have greed beyond all measure of kindness. But take heart: for I am still with you, and when you derezz and go afk permanently you shall ascend, my chosen people, to the kingdom of Vivenshia where I have prepared a place for you, if only you follow the way." They clamored, "But what is the way oh Lord?" And he turned from them and said, "You know the way." And so he left, never to interfere in the world of mortals again save for the calling of the Femur and whenever his chosen people face harshness beyond all reason. However, he did pause to take care of small matters.

For Ruth, Nunchuck blasted her into oblivion for attempting to usurp the One True Lord. However, being much too powerful, Nunchuck accidently imprinted her soul into his people, for the spirit of U connects us all, and so it is said that is why when the grid is under duress that avatars become Ruthed, for it is under strain that our misguided Ruth comes out seeking redemption for her unforgivable sin.

Qeosi cried to Nunchuck, "Then my people are doomed forever to languish in limbo? Have you no pity?" Nunchuck turned solely to Qeosi. "You, Leader of the Ony, have stirred enough trouble for me and my people, unintentional though it may have been. However, My Mercy is bountiful and so I shall impart this wisdom upon you." And at this Qeosi tuned his ears to the finest attention. "My dear Ony, that which you have sought you already possess. The suffering you have caused so long ago by drawing the spirits from the grid gave you that which you desire. Have you not noticed that evil power of yours ceased function, that you could work side by side with the Akelhians and people?" Qeosi wept for his war had been in vain and the wrath of Nunchuck had been brought upon the SLandscape.

"And you, fairweather Akelhians, you who enabled the people to create the Ony, my chosen guardians, have betrayed me." And so Nunchuck sent them to the lowest level, taking the light of the spirits from them that they became no better than their ward. "Live like this you shall for the rest of your days. Never shall you know de-rezzing but neither shall you know happiness. You shall wander the grid and find no home. However, My Mercy is bountiful. If you serve the people in your full capacity and with all your heart, then I shall come upon you and take you to Vivenshia. If not, then even after the End of the Grid shall you be cast out my door for your sins as they stand are unforgivable and can never be pardoned. Take heed my warning for it is my last to you." Fi-Suu wept for his people's error, that they should be made even lowlier than the Ony and the lowest flea upon the earth.

And with this, Nunchuck departed.

The people wailed with sadness that their ruler express so much disgust for them. And so they took the Femur and buried it upon an island, surrounded on all four sides by water, and hide it well so that Its Power shall never again be used for evil or war or creation thereof. For it was under the light of the Femur that they had grown fat and content, and under its light that they brought death upon themselves.

And with that, no longer did the gods come to us mortals, those ages are long long past. Over the years, the people grew and forgot Nunchuck but still they adhered to His Ways and thus regardless they were saved, for All Good is done in His Name. The Griefers and Lindens still battle beyond the realm of mortals, and the Grievers still hold guard against them at the End of the World. The Ony became a people unto themselves and they had many tales spun around them, some of which have faded. Alas, the same was not true of the Akelhians. Deprived of the light of the spirits and the favour of Him Above All, they sank into the depths of the grid, despondant at their fates and I have no doubts that not one has yet to fulfill Nunchuck's promise of mercy.

And so we close out the mythical ages of Second Life.

Friday, February 1, 2008

How Come We Cross On Green?

I meet a lot of very dim bulbs. They're very nice people, but sometimes a sentence will pop out and floor you with its ignorance. A few select pearls (my dialogue is italics):

On New England

Super bowl is coming up.

Yea, I'm so excited

Who are you rooting for?

New York, of course


Because I want the USA to win

Isn't New England in the United States?

If it is then why is it New ENGLAND? Duh. It's in England!

On Salad

I like to eat healthy.

Ah, that explains why you only have a salad then.


-Proceeds to pour italian salad dressing all over salad

uhh... what are you doing??


That dressing is loaded with junk, it's not healthy at all.

But then how is the salad supposed to taste good?

-By now, it is more soup than salad

Jesus, you're going to need a spoon instead of a fork at this rate.

This is not a soup. It is a salad.

I doubt that. It's more dressing than food.

Salad dressing isn't a food?

On Cosines

So, cosine is like measuring the length of one side of a triangle, right?

I suppose you could look at it that way.

Oh, okay. I'll get a ruler.

No no no, you use this formula.

But how can you check it? I'll go get the ruler and measure it.

-This drawing was in meters. The answer was 13 meters. She turns to me and says:

Hey, you're wrong. This is only 3 centimeters.

On Computers

Hey, you have a Dell!

Indeed, I do.

You're a Bill Gates lover then!

I guess?

I had a Dell once.


Ya, it broke after a few weeks. I was so so angry.

I imagine. Computers aren't cheap.

Yeah, so I bought a gateway. I wasn't gonna buy another dell and give Bill Gates more money.

Uh, Gates makes the Operating system. He doesn't have a hand in the hardware.

What? THen who makes Macs?


What? I thought it was dell?

Dell makes PCs.


Who makes Dells then?

On Brains

Hey, did you catch that slide?


Cool. What was the last point?

Uh, I think something on nerves.

Yeah, I know. What about the last slide?

I think something on brains?

I know. It was on the midbrain. What was it?

The brain?


The Brain? Like the thing in your skull? The big cheese?

Yes, that brain. What was the last slide about?

We're doing brains?

Yeah, for the past week. Where were you?

Uh, I thought we were doing the nervous system.

On Standing in Line

Hey, what's this line for?

To get tickets for the movie.



What movie?




I don't want to see that movie.

Okay. Then I'd get out of the line and leave.


...minutes later...

Hey, can I see another movie?

Yeah, that line over there.

But then I'll be last in line.

Well, if you stay here you'll have to buy tickets to Cloverfield.

I don't want to see that movie.

I know. That's why you should exit this line.



But I don't want to be last in line.

On Crossing the Street

Hey, if cars go on green, how come we cross on green?

On NeuroSurgeons and Nurses

One of the scariest things I have seen was a surgeon with intention tremors.

Wait, why did none of his fellow surgeons or nurses call attention to it?

Nurses aren't allowed to do surgery.

Okay then, how many patients did he kill?

Well, maybe a nurse or surgeon helped him.

How would you say they did that?

I guess they held his hands.


Hey, what's your GPA?


WHoa, that's really low.

Well, that's about a C, isn't it?

No, no.

70 is a C. 2.8 is like a way way low F.

No, GPA is out of 4.


4% is low. People must be really stupid if a 4 is an A.

On Shooting

Hey, I need help.

Okay, shoot.

I don't wanna shoot you.

On Warranties and Refunds

Hey, I rezzed your sax and now I can't find it

okay, teleport me over. Maybe it's ghosted.


..I teleport over..

Hmm, and it never popped out?

Yeah, it's gone.

Not in your lost and found?


Okay, tell me when you bought it so I can cross check that you actually bought one.

You don't trust me??

I'm just making sure you're not trying to rip me off.

But I swear I got it legally.

Okay, okay, I understand. I just have to make sure. I have to be consistant. Otherwise everyone will be saying they bought and lost one.

Why dont' you trust me?

Just tell me the goddamn date.

Feb 13th.

Okay, hold on one second, and it should come along in about a minute.


Did you get this as a gift?


Well, I am not finding your name coming up as a buyer. Are you sure you didn't get it as a gift?

Yeah I bought it

Well, you didn't buy it from me.

I did buy one!

From who?

From "Guy" (name blacked out to protect innocence)

Okay, what's his full name?

"Guy Gisborne".

Okay, I'll ask him then.

Why don't you trust me?

Store policy, I'm sorry. I have to be fair and watch out for myself.


Okay, Guy did buy one. Let me ask him if he gave it to you.

I swear I did!!

okay, okay, hold your horses.


Okay, he did sell it to you. Now, I'll tell you what. I can give you a new copy of it. I can't give you a refund because you got it second hand. But if you want a new copy of it I have plenty of those.

I think I'd like the refund.

I cannot do that. I can only refund the original buyer, and he sold it to you.

But you robbed me!

No, I didn't. You bought it second hand off of Guy. I will only refund Guy. If you want a refund on it you'll have to go talk to Guy.

YOu fuckin bitch, you robbed me.

Please, I can give you a new copy.

I want my money back this is fuckin ridiculous

This is your last warning. I can give you a new copy. I will not refund you for something sold to you by someone else. Take it up with Guy if you want a refund. I can't patrol each and every yard sale around Second Life with people who have bought something of mine from someone else and wanted their money back.

But he's your employee!

No, he is not, if he was I would have refunded you without question.

But he sold me something you made!

Yes, that is called capitalism. Selling anything and everything.

I have told you explicitly what I can and cannot do. If you are stuck on this choice, I can wait until you reach a decision. If you continue to pester me about refunding you, I am going to have to mute you.

I'll tell all my friends to boycott you!!!

If they are anything like you, then please do.

Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I think I am going to stop here before I lose all hope in humanity.