Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Look Ma, No Dollars!

Some years ago, there was a market. It was called GOM. And they did this funny little thing, where they would exchange your L$ and USD$ outside of LL's money exchanger. They offered some wild and crazy rates (something like L$1000/US$4 and upwards, or something like that) which meant that if you earned a lot inworld, then you could withdraw it for more real life monetary bang. Very useful. You could buy in via LL's exchanger, start a business, and extract L$ from GOM and make a tidy profit.

Then one day, a problem occured. The problem was that Philip had an itch. See, while he thought it all well and good that he controlled a good deal of one side of this operation he wanted more. What if, and this was one big if, what if he controlled all sides? What if, instead of all these third party exchangers, what if he consolidated it all under a single, LL controlled roof? And thus, the Lindex was born. Philip said it was good.

As you can imagine, this led to GOM's inevitable downfall, because the simple truth was that LL could afford to take some initial losses in the short run to cause a run on GOM and destroy it. And that happened. And from then on, we have had only the Lindex and the whims of the Lindens to maintain the exchange between the real bucks and the space bucks. At least, that is the story that is told to Second Life children and is taught in Second Life schools. It may be a tad off from the real truth.

In any event, all we've had, and all I've known since I first rezzed, was that the L$/US$ was controlled by Supply Linden, a federal reserve unto himself.

And now, some three years after monopolizing the exchange markets, the Lindens announce that they are opening up foreign exchange rates, for those of us trading in Euros, Pounds, and Canadian dollars. This is a very good thing, because limiting SL to the US dollar isn't so good when fifty percent of your customers aren't Americans. The thing is that LL is offering this service via numerous third party providers who have given their word to LL to honestly exchange L$/Euros.

Gee, that sounds a lot like GOM. Maybe one day, when Linden Lab gets more resources and decides that these third parties aren't quite as effective... and that they'd make more controlling both sides of the equations...

They say those who fail to learn from the past...

Second Life (TM, (C), (R), Patent Pending)

Buried way in the back, is an interesting little diddy about Second Life Branding.

You also can't continue wantonly using "Second Life" or "Linden Lab" in your groups or blogs or anything if you read this all carefully.

First, what concerns me as a pseudo-journalist: How to use the Second Life (trademark copyright patent pending) name and logo properly in any blogs/articles I write. Fortunately, Linden Lab has thoughtfully provided a handy guideline so I know my legal bounds.

1)Approved Use. The Second Life Hand Logo may be used only by journalists or media outlets in a published article or blog entry specifically about the Second Life world. No other use is allowed without Linden Lab's written permission. Never use a Second Life Hand Logo (or any part or version of one):

-in any name or logo of a business, news program, or publication, including any website or blog;
-in a header or banner of a website or blog;
-in the title of an article, blog entry or news program;
without displaying the name and any logo of your business, news program, or publication in the signature position (usually the top of the material indicating clear ownership of the communication);
-in any manner that suggests co-branding or a relationship with Linden Lab; or
-in any manner that tarnishes the Second Life brand name or the Logo.

Well, the good news is that both my blog, domain, and any given 'business' I may belong to never use Second, Life, Second Life, and all recombinations of the letters in between. Or use the stupid hand logo. Yup, squeaky clean here. I'd sure as hell NEVER co-brand anything with Linden Lab, egads, I'm not that evil. Flattered, but no.

That last bit is interesting, because there are tons of sites that satire and mock SL and which use the SL hand logo in full and in part as part of the joke. It's funny because it will be as effective at preventing brand destruction as the flag burning amendment will be in preventing the burning of US flags (freedom of speech and all that lovely jazz).


-Do not make a Second Life Hand Logo a primary or prominent feature of your article, blog entry, or news program. The Logo must be smaller and subordinate to your own business name, logo, and any other branding.
-Always display the Logo right-side up with the words "Second Life" in a horizontal position.
-Never use more than one Second Life Hand Logo in an article, blog entry, or news program.
-Never use the Logo in text to represent the words "Second Life."

Common sense, all this, no? That last point (what is with these points on the end?) is kind of funny. Who in their right mind binds a key to a mini picture of the SL logo just to save a few seconds typing out "Second Life"? I'm not exactly a flash in the pan with regards to typing, but "Second Life" only takes me a cool three seconds to write out.

3) and 4) describe the boring ol' "this is the way our official logo should look".

5) gets into the gnarly details. I have already established that I'm in the clear because I don't use their logos. But it's interesting to read because the devil is into details and for those who have, it's a good idea to read up. For instance, LL retains the right to determine whether you are a press outlet or not. Obviously, for big ol' media, this is no problem because you'd have a fine time in court trying to prove that ABC is not a press outlet. But for little bloggers like me, starting a blog called "My Second Life" and garnish my site with a nifty SL hand logo then I'm at SL's mercy. If I publish an article that isn't too complimentary, then they could go around Rule #1 above and just say I'm not the press and shut me down. All the way to chinatown.

Then there's the always knee-slapping part about obtaining an official logo. Here is the way I'd get the logo for free. Step one would be to load the SL website. Step two is to hit a nifty button called "Prnt Scrn" on your keyboard. Step three is to open up Microsoft Paint, select the edit menu, and select "Paste". Crop the image out into the SL logo. Done. All without such stupid things like "permission" and "official".

There's so many rules. It's just the funniest thing I've ever read. It's taken me about a week to slog through it all, and the laughs just keep pouring in.

That first link lists unauthorized uses of LL's trademarks. Obviously, you can't steal it as your own. And you can't make merchandise such as coffee cups with their brands on it. The name can't be used in website domains. Some examples:

"This is NOT OK:"

Gee, there goes about every single home brewed personal blog about Second Life out there. Good thing I based my name around a running gag I used to pull.

You also can't use "Your world, Your imagination". I hope this is only intended for some kind of competitor, because I'd love to avoid having a take-down issued to me solely because I just used the tagline in this article. There's also a bunch of anal rules about the actual name itself, as in it must be in English fully spelled out. No "第二の人生" or "Second-life". Must be exactly "Second Life" if you refer to it in an article/blog. Guess the nail is screwed to me, then.

And don't think it's funny. No one is above the law, as LL specifically details each particular outlet's rules and responsibilities. Mine would be here.

So, finally, we should dig through and find out just what exactly is trademarked. That particular list can be found here. I can't use just Linden or L$, it must be either Linden™ or "dollar" (they helpfully suggest 'dollars' as a plural, just in case we thought they trademarked that too). It's Second Life® and Linden Lab® . Even SL is supposed to be SL™. Names for viewers are not exempt (WindLight® ).

I am not a lawyer, but there is something about trademarks. They must be enforced with zeal or else you lose them. Hence, we have things like "aspirin" (registered under Bayer but lost), "band-aids", and "Xeroxing a document". Adobe is currently attempting to do something similar to LL by asking users and web authors to not say "photoshopped" but to declare that a picture was "modified by Adobe® Photoshop® software". That is to say, I believe that unless Linden Lab wants to spend a significant amount of time fighting infringement cases, their trademark will probably be beaten and hung out to dry. Alas, what a fate.

I suppose I should wait for the LL lawyers to send me letters now. In the meantime, I'll be busy bashing LL in the name of Linden Lab®.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blocking the Writer

Sometimes, you just can't put anything into words.

You look and look and stare at this white blank piece of paper, and there is just
nothing coming out of the pen. It just wasn't meant to be. That paper is mocking
you, laughing at your feeble attempts to force your hand to write what your mind is
thinking. Both the paper and your hand are laughing, saying, "Oh this is rich. Look
at that prose, it's downright hideous. I'm embarrassed to be attached to this
person!" And the paper replies, "if you think that's bad, try being the one who's
forced to bear this dope's tattoo for the rest of your natural life."

It's worse when your job is on the line. Authors, Grad Students, Postal Clerks,
Police, all jobs where writing is part and parcel of the daily tasks. And to be so
crippled by that most fiendish mind which cannot fathom where to start or end with
the purpose on task. It is truly devilish.

Perhaps it is just the daunting task of knowing where to begin. It is similar to
the formality you encounter when you are just introduced to someone, polite hullos
are exchanged and small talk is brought up as you feel out this new aquiantance,
finding out where they stand, whether they like you and you like them.

Only in writing, there are many more factors. The audience is unseen, possibly.
Who knows what they will think of you. If you start off on the wrong foot, then your
idea will not get across. You have to be perfect in your introduction, you have to
nail it right off the bat. It must be perfect. Anything less is inviting diaster.
A good intro can hand wave past shaky premises and any leaps of logic.

And it must all tie together into a single thesis towards which you are
presenting. Every work has a singular goal and a purpose which the author wants to
drive you the reader towards. It could be as complex as using symbology to protest
the silence of the Darfur crisis or as simple as discussing the day-to-day
banalities. But whatever the cause, it must get the point across. And it's hard
especially when your talking points all mash around in your skull and obfuscate your
central point.

We all succumb to this. It's only natural as most of us cannot efficiently process a piece of writing right off the bat and with no delay or heistation. It's something of a learned skill.

It also happens to be a skill which I still have yet to grapple with.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Response to a Comment II

On February 11, 2008, this was posted as a comment to my "Great Evils" post on age players. I will respond point by point.

"You probably will not post this, And that is ok. I know you will read it."

My policy for this blog is to allow you, the reader, to post comments of whatever flavor you want. I do not see your comments, there is no moderation. When you click post, it goes immediately into the post itself without me seeing it. This saves tremendously on my time and fulfills my belief in the freedom of speech and freedom of discussion of ideas.

Also, I do make an effort to read and think about comments. This involves a lot of back checking my archives for comments such as yours that get buried in the past. But I honestly believe that everyone should have a fair say in whatever it is I'm ranting or tripping about at the moment.

Hmm, come to think of it, I don't believe I've ever stated that before as my policy. But now I just did!

"I play a child avitar in second life. And while yes there are many there who are not innocent, let me assure you that I know many who are. My child avi acts and speaks in a Pg if not G rated manner. The sim she lives on is a pg sim, and anyone who suggests she do otherwise is reported immediatly."


"There are some there hon who are only doing in Second Life what many many others are doing. Something you can do in real life and that is be a child again. I had a horid childhood, sl provides a safe and sane place if i am careful where i can have a fraction of that, that i missed."

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree on this point. It is a release, certainly, but it's not treating the source of the problem, the horrid childhood itself. That is something that will require some serious therapy and playing a child on Second Life is something like repressing this rather than confronting it. Perhaps you have already done this, and in that case I'm something of an ass for suggesting it.

I am going to be honest, life is shit. Life sucks. It's short, horrid, and brutal. But I try to live in the future and look ahead, I personally don't try to go back and rewind my life to that point. Again, I may be presumptuous on your life but I only have your Second Life to judge this from. Please forgive me these assumptions otherwise.

If you believe this to be true, and it helps you, then more power to you.

"Also let me assure you that the innocent child avis are at war against the not innocent pedos as much as the next person."

That's great to here! Keeping house in your community is vital, precisely because it was ignoring the problem which brought age play to the forefront in the first place. It's great to hear that your community is taking steps against this.

"You dont have to understand, and I will not loose any sleep if you do not even try. But you do need to remember that there are real people on the other side of that screen of yours, and we reserve the right to play our game in any way that we choose."

And I respect your right to choose how to live. I understand perfectly the direction from which you are coming from, and I also understand the people on the 'other side of the screen'.

"Everything I do there is legal in rl, i would be more focused on those who do things in sl that would NOT be legal in rl. Such as rape? verbal assault, harassment."

Verbal assault and harassment are two things which in SL are easy to solve. Mute the person, ban them from your lands. It's very simple and I do not understand why they will stand there and complain that so-and-so person is IMing them lewdly when there is a mute button right there. This is a RL problem where you can't mute. But in SL? Something of a non-issue. I've been harassed in SL, and I mute them. If they're a (former) friend, then I turn off 'see my location' and 'see my online status' and destroy their friend card if they get annoying enough.

"I am signing this anonymous, because i really do not care to be harassed by you in game. I go there to have fun not deal with grief. Open your mind and eyes a little. You just might be surprised. =) Have a great day."

I would never think to harass someone just because of their beliefs or comments. I'm sorry you got that impression. It hurts me a little that I scared you to the point where you could not give your SL name for fear of harassment.

Having said all that, let me explain myself. My great evils posts were, at their heart, tongue in cheek. I really don't care about what people do in SL if, as you say rightly, they remain in RL laws.

The Great Evils Posts focus upon communities and people who people seem to always scream about as bad or not acceptable. When I wrote that Great Evils of Ageplay, it was just before the age player ban, when people at that time were calling for age verification (strange, they don't seem to like these days) and banning of child avatars. I was just more than a little disgusted and so wrote a post describing all the 'evils' of child avatars. I wrote it in the manner of a 17th century naturalist, even ascribing latin names to avatars. My idea was to write about age players doing and being something so over the top, that the reader would come to grips with the fact that perhaps the hype about age players was a little overblown.

I'm not saying I'm a saint, and you could probably dredge up a few posts of mine where I submit to this scandalizing of child avatars. That is my own faults of character. However, all the Great Evil posts were intended as comedy and not taken seriously. If people have, that makes me sad. I'm sorry if I offended you in any way, but please take consolation in the fact that I actually intended it to show off the overblown fear of child avs present at the time.

I honestly thought that the bland picture of the child av labeled as "hideous", that a herd of them would be called "Bunch of snot nosed brats", that they eat avatars by mimicking children and lowering your guard, that I would even need to warn an avatar having sex to check to see if their partner was an age player in the first place, was funny and a mockery of the taboo people placed on them.

The Great Evils was going to be a running series, but I stopped because I forgot about it and it was tiring to think of unique ways to make someone 'evil'. I only covered child avatars and griefers, and I had posts written about Nude Newbies and Copybot. But between Real Life (school finals), Second Life, and writing the Nunchuck Bible, I just stopped. Maybe that is just a little unfair to griefers and age players.


Madison and I were goofing around per usual and bought an 80-90 meter long airship dubbed the NS Deukalin (or something along those lines).

This thing is 263 prims. It has about six rooms: A main reception room, two bedroom/observation rooms, a hallway between those three, a maintenance room on the top for access to the balloons, and an engineering/cargo space on the bottom. Six engines propel this massive beast across the skies, and it needs a helmsman, a navigator, and an inflight engineer to do so. There is no limit on its capacity, but it starts with seating for three in the cockpit. More can be added if the rooms are furnished.

Did I mention this thing can actually fly? It crawls along looking for all the world like a metal caterpillar but it flies in one piece and doesn't look half bad doing so. Madison and I flew it across the Russian continent (they call it the 'Japanese' continent but the names are all Russian). We kept to the open sea Linden sims along the coastline, just as I do with my airplanes, to avoid banlines and full parcels.

And so we cruised, admiring the beach houses and yachts people placed out. There was minor trouble as our tail was shot off as we tried to break into Mia and Bree's hide-out, but we managed to keep it together. We were finally done in when we hit a full parcel (the ocean ran out and we had to make a land crossing). The cockpit kept chugging along until it finally fell out of the sky and crashed.

I think I like blimps more than airplanes now. They move much slower, so I can chat and fly at the same time without worrying whether I'm going to smack into the broad side of someone's house or marina. Moving slower lets it cross sims easier and lets objects rezz, meaning I crash into something far less and can enjoy the actual view. And for this particular vehicle, it can hold multiple people on a cruise to hell.

If I'm inworld, feel free to IM me and I'll give you a ride. I swear it's completely worth it, and if we do crash, it's also good for a few chuckles.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of Avatar events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the servers, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Code and Nunchuck entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of Avatarkind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Avatars are created equal, that they are endowed by Nunchuck with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Avatars, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Islands and Mainlands; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of SL is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these Servers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in LL, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together meetings at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has conspired dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Lindens, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the Servers remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these Servers; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Newbies, and raising the conditions and costs of new Appropriations of Land Parcels and Islands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world during Rolling Restarts:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us out of SL to be tried for pretended offences:

For declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Griefers whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Linden brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by them to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, We, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Servers, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Servers are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to Philip Linden, and that all political connection between them and the State of Linden Lab, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Book of Nunchuck

Qeosi was strolling along in Olive one day, when he saw a great railroad being built with a grand and open train station. "A ha, if I could get a hold of that, surely my people would profit greatly in these hard times." So he came to the owner. "Ha, let you have MY land that I have bought and paid for?" the owner roared. "No sir, I would gladly pay you any amount for this station alone. If you so desire, you could hire it out as a lease and we would pay you ten times over!" "Not on my life would I ever make such a deal with the Ony, the scoundrels they are!" Railer replied.

At this, Qeosi took umbrance and so he plotted a way to take not just the station but the entire line. And he hit upon an idea.

"Good sir, do you have any trains yet?" Qeosi inquired. "Why, no, I do not. I am much more concerned with building the railway first," Railer admitted. "Ah, then let's look at the facts," Qeosi said, putting on as serious business face and pacing back and forth. "You have a railway with no trains. What value is a railway with no trains? Surely people will not pay to buy tickets to walk your line!" Railer nodded his head in agreement.

"Therefore, let us think which is much more valuable at this point: the trains or the train track? All this lovely track is worthless! Terrible! But the man who has the trains, he is going to make a pretty penny, both from selling trains to other railers and from running the trains up and down the line. If only you had some trains. What a pity." Qeosi waited for Railer to bite.

"I don't see why I couldn't pay a builder to make me a train," Railer mused. "Oh good sir, that is great, but consider that a builder will surely see the value in the trains if an Ony could!" Railer acknowledged this, as he thought the Ony stupid and bad in general and better if they all died and were wiped off of SL. "But here, here you are laying down this lovely track. Surely you too could build your own trains! Think of the profits, my friend!"

"Tis a sad day when an Ony makes sense. But what can I do with this railway? I need it for the trains," the Railer heistatingly responded. "A worthless track, yes? Perhaps best if you could pawn it off on some sorry loser!" Qeosi exclaimed. The Railer chuckled, "ANd I suppose I should just turn it over to you? YOu take me for a fool, Qeosi." "No fool sir, because I'm wiling to pay you good for this rail of ours, but not in money!" Again the railer chuckled. "Am I to be paid in mud and sticks then?"

"Fear not, good railer! For us Ony have something more valuable than L$, gold, or the server code. For we have in our possession the very trains you desire, fully copyable and moddable and transferable, all permission, gively to you solely as a gift. Whether or not you decide to reciprocate is entirely up to you." And with this, Qeosi shrugged and walked off to let the Railer stew in his juices.

The railer hated to give anything away, but he saw the wisdom of Qeosi's words and wanted a train, and here was one that was being given away. If it were true that the line was a loss and the engines themselves the true business, then wouldn't it be perfect justice to strike those silly Ony with a worthless gift such as the line?

"Qeosi, you are much to kind," Railer said with a wide beaming grin. Qeosi could see a sprig of broccoli stuck in Railer's teeth. "I shall give the railway to you." And Qeosi jumped for joy and rejoiced. "However, I know your tricks and I want exclusive and free right to run my trains on your rails. For you could easily deny me the rails, yes?"

Qeosi nodded solemnly. "You certainly have me over a barrel, good railer. I shall keep my word to give you access to the rails."

Qeosi's people then set to work laying down the rest of the railroad from Olive to Violet. When they opened the ticket stations, they sold many tickets and made lots and lots of money. When Railer tried to sell tickets to the passengers, they showed him the tickets Qeosi had sold them. Railer became angry. "Those Ony have tricked me. But I will show them, I will just take my trains off their rails and go elsewhere." However, other railers saw his trains were made by the Ony and so refused to take them, for surely they had put some curse into them. Meanwhile, the Ony built their own trains again and so had no need for Railer.

Over time, people stopped using the railway but by then the Ony had become very very rich. The rail was torn down and decayed, although someone has rebuilt it, or so I have heard. As for Railer, he spent the rest of his life trying to find the Ony tricks in the train code.

He never did trust those Ony.

When the Lindens came back after Nunchuck departed and torn down all walls, they set to work immediately irradicating all who they considered Griefers. THey felt griefers were the cause of all evil and having fought them for centuries felt they could spot one as well as a double hawk.

They pegged the Ony as griefers, for they were much different and had the strangest of ways. Those close to the Lindens whispered in their ears, "Those ONy cannot be trusted within an inch of your life. Better that you eradicate them for the better of everyone in this world." And so Philip and the other Lindens set to work. But the Ony had not done anything wrong, so they could not take any real action. "They must be tricked so we can do the right thing," whispered Raynier, chief of the whisperers. "Qeosi is too clever for his own good, he will fall into our traps trying to escape them."

Now, Qeosi was no idiot and he had his own people and spies in the court of the Lindens and well understand the way the wind was blowing. "People hate us now, and we have not done any wrongs. We should try and exercise caution for a while."

Raynier, however, was masterful at traps and laid many for Qeosi. One day Gardener Smit found all of his sweet potatoes gone, and only when Qeosi gave him a tour did the blame lift from the Ony. A princely sum was transported across the land with light guard. One particular builder slapped his Ony apprentice around before firing him without warning. Qeosi seethed, for he wanted so badly to strike back but could not without ultimate retaliation falling upon him.

One day, an idea struck him, and he set to planning and executing his grand plan.

Qeosi hired his people out as adfarmerjacks, going around and chopping down ad farms to make prims. "We are just doing civic duty, for look how ugly these ad farms are!" Qeosi exclaimed.

Raynier could not let this get far, because she needed the Ony to be viewed as villians, not volunteer slaves. So she insituted her own volunteers who worked much harder than the ony. She trumpeted, "The Ony only were helping the adfarmers, while we are actually getting rid of them!" Gradually, Raynier's volunteers took over all of the work. "Oh, I am ruined!" Qeosi cried! "For sure we are ruined!"

But in secret, he was glad, and proceeded with the next phase of his plan. He snuck around the back of the Linden castle, and planted the most ugliest ad farm the world had ever seen. It marred the entire castle, which took up some seven sims. It grew fast and large in the shade of the castle's walls. Planted ages ago by an ad farmer who accepted Qeosi's suggestion and planted it there. After two weeks, it was quite visible from Philip's window. So Raynier's volunteers were called in.

I should also explain the layout of the castle. The walls are first a wall of wood, then a wall of iron mesh, then a wall of solid granite, and then a wall of code. The wood was a good primary boundary, the iron was strong and resisted battering rams and the like, the granite blocked light arrows and some cannons, and the code was code. The way the ad was planted, it was between the iron and granite. Ad farms can get quite large and heavy, and this one was no exception.

Raynier's volunteers came and chopped down the ad like they had all of the rest. However, when it started to fall, it was so heavy that it breached the granite wall. And it was so tall it went and reached clear round the castle and knocked a good fifth of it into the ground. The volunteers fled for fear of retribution.

The lindens were very angry and Raynier was furious. "Qeosi has gone and made me the fool, but I shall get him yet." And so Raynier made it her goal in life to get revenge against the Ony. To this end, she managed to get Philip to start a formal court inquiry into the matter. Qeosi was dragged to the King's chamber.

Philip called Qeosi before him, and asked, "Qeosi, there seems to be a large hole in my castle." "That was my observation too, my lord," Qeosi said, "if only you had let the Ony take care of such a delicate matter." "I know you had something to do with this, you lying cheat. Out with it. When did you sneak in?" "Why, my lord, I take offense, for I have never been near your grand halls." ANd when they checked the security orbs, indeed, he had never been there, and the ad farmer who had planted it was long since banned and gone.

So Philip stopped his campaign against the Ony, although he never did completely trust them and still fell victim to the Whisperer every now and again. So Qeosi taught his people all kinds of tricks, the best in the world, tricks of every kind to evade and annoy the Lindens. And to this day, the Qeosi and his Ony have never been caught.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Hey diddle diddle

The cat ate the fiddle

The one little croc turned into its snout

And the little one came down with the gout

Cilia Silly, ya?

Gobble Gobble Gooble Goo.


The elephant turned around and saw a fire truck. The bird said, "I like cheese" and the elephant said, "No I am not a goat." They both took their fifth arm and bought a share in wooden desks. The crocodile ate vegan.

When in the course of human event, We the people, in order to establish a more perfect Flagella, four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth upon this continent another Flagella.

The End.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Circle the Herd!

Years ago, around the 1880s to 1890s (and perhaps a little bit beyond) Unions such as the Knights of Labour struggled to give the working man a chair in the board of their company.

The logic was that management at the upper levels was not profoundly affected by their own decisions, as evidenced by Enron. When things go bad due to poor CEOs, the Unions reasoned, the people who really get the shaft are the employees and wage slaves. They are the ones who lose the jobs when the company has to cut corners. And because of this fact, don't they deserve at least a chair in the room when these momentous decisions are being laid?

The problem was that this was a pipe dream for numerous reasons. The first was that the layoffs really hit into the portion of the company which was easily replaceable. If I fire ten high school drop outs, I can hire ten more at the drop of a hat. The workers had no real leverage to exercise against the company in question, since if you didn't like it, you were shown the door where you would see a line coming in waiting to take your position.

Then there was the other more emotional level, which was that there was no way those plebes are going to butt into our affairs. Honestly. Do you really think the CEO of GM is going to listen to his factories when he has to cut jobs due to the fact that no one wants his Suburbans? Look out for number one, after all. Plus you then have a conflict of interests, since the Board is trying to hold a business together while the workers want decent pay against inflation and some semblance of job security. It was doomed to fail.

And that's why you see the rise of Unions that abandoned this ideal. It was a compromise between an idealistic long term goal (the chair in the board) versus a realistic short term (pay raise). It also helped that many Unions switched to more skilled and less easily replaced trades, such as police or screen writers. People who have a skill you can't reproduce with any old Joe, Jack, and Jane.

Of course, some may argue this reduces creativity since you're going to see the same old, same old, from the schools and masters who train the apprentices. This isn't entirely the fault of Unions. The counter argument itself is something of an American dream, that to be properly healthy you need to give everyone a chance. Who knows, you might have someone who single handed builds a multi billion dollar Fortune 50 company. That we could have a Bill Gates (a high school drop-out, I believe) on our hands if we only looked beyond the pale.

Of course, you could also point out that such people have came and went and made their mark. We went everyone to be able to do it, though. Everyone including ourselves. And there is nothing wrong with that, because it's perfectly human to want to succeed and to want to see others succeed. I don't think anyone takes delight in lording over the homeless that you can afford to pay rent and have a roof over your head. The human thing is to try to help them out, give them a leg up.

As with the chair on the board, however, this is an unattainable ideal. There will always be not enough for everyone not matter how hard you try to share the wealth. And if you do succeed it's not sustainable because someone will try to take advantage. Someone will try to take more than their fair share, and others will follow his or her example in a desire to get ahead and you end up back where you started.

Unions look out for number one: themselves. Because if they went and tried to cover everyone, as history proved, they get nowhere. And to those who have the talent but just don't have the credentials (since Unions force membership, and of course the company itself likes to have some evidence you really know your stuff), it's an up hill battle. Those who manage, though, truly shine. One could say it's a form of natural selection.

Prokofy is horrified that the tech industry, video games specifically, displays similar solidarity. That they always seem to circle the wagons, especially when someone (in this case a journalist) challenges them and they perceive it as an attack. And that is where we see this trend towards unionism. They will naturally defend any of their own. I am not being paranoid, either. It may not be conscience, but it's similar to meme propagation.

Meme propagation isn't evil. It just is. It's a trait that slowly evolved in humans, because coordination with your mates is key and if you can't see eye to eye with them, you're going to be picked off by some saber toothed cat. And some memes (thoughts) are very good. For instance, I don't think anyone would argue that spreading democracy is a bad thing. I don't think anyone would debate whether compassion should be eradicated. Memes just... are. The idea of memes isn't good or bad, it's just a fact of life that people will ingrain themselves with whatever seems to be popular at the moment. For these people in technology, they are just defending what they think are destructive memes.

The problem is zealotry. It seems that people cannot compromise. Perhaps, like Unions, in the future there will come to be some middle ground. But these people, and those that push back, are seeing this false dichotomy of 'us versus them'. 'We're always the good guys, that other guy is nuts'. I think Dawkins dabbled into this idea that memes themselves follow a kind of evolution, where the information will fight to survive. And I suppose we can see that kind of thinking here. These people have invested time and money into it, and to watch it die is a blow to be sure.

What annoys me is the condescending attitudes of all parties. In the above mentioned case, tech blogs were calling for the journalist to essentially zombify journalism. Their conditions were an apology and a redo (like the past can be reset, heh) with a set of questions predetermined and set boundaries for ad libbing. In essence, they want to deny the very nature of journalism.

At its heart, journalism is investigating the stories behind the news. It is NOT what you usually see on ABC or NBC or CNN. That is called reporting the news, in fact, it used to be called reading the news. That isn't really journalism to me. True journalism isn't satisfied with the press release, whereas news reading would. Journalists are public and civilian detectives. These days, they have drifted into sensationalism, but the heart is in the right place. Some of the best journalism have found stories that have informed and helped the public effect change that otherwise would never have happened. This is not to say it's always good and pure, sometimes it has been detrimental and even harmed society. But nothing is ever black and white, and on the whole journalism is a good thing. It's even a vital rating in the United Nations as an indication of a healthy, good, and free nation by measuring the amount of freedom the press has.

Because of its nature as a meme intruder, those under fire naturally fire back. This is what we are witnessing here. The industry and its followers are fighting back at an attack. And their return fire is to make demands, OR ELSE. The question that follows is what exactly they are threatening. They are fighting back by passing word around and smearing and skewing the incident. The actual original cause of this incident was rather stupid in hindsight, but it was an intruder, it must be destroyed. This person, and what she represents, is a danger that must be stopped according to them.

And that makes me sad, that they cannot discuss the actual question, but instead attack the messenger. You would think if it was a stupid and easy question, it could be easily answered. I can think of a few instances where a very probing question could be easily answered by those under the gun. Why assault when you can defuse? It's ridiculous on so many levels. If the question warranted the level of disdain as they would have you believe, then what exactly is the big fuss? Wouldn't the person's acts speak for themselves as a reporter and earn them a reputation that isn't so nice? One can debate up and down the pros and cons of Michael Moore, but you cannot deny his films have sparked debates and new views on issues that previously were more or less swept under the rug and forced the 'other side' to reexamine and reinforce their arguments, if they had any.

Nothing is black and white. And as I have said, the initial question was fairly lame. But the response was worse. And the response will probably provoke more examination. Such is journalism, that when one of their own is attacked the rest circle like sharks.

Or nothing may happen at all. This kind of antagonism between older and newer media isn't exactly new. But what the internet has provided is a voice for everyone to weigh in on it. When television supplemented the radio, consumers really didn't have a say except in purchasing (in buying either a radio or a tv, which would reinforce the media of whichever). Now, on the internet, we are encountering something of a true democracy where everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, can voice their opinion and force memes and propagate them.

The problem in democracy is noise ratios. Take the United States. Look at the electoral college. In order to really force a change, one has to convince the entire district to follow whatever it is you're pushing. You cut out all kinds of fringe groups such as complete fascists or communists or anarchists, because those groups would really destroy the system, and what you get is a compromise between many things. You really have to campaign and think through a bill or a candidate, to determine the best for the most amount of people. There is a call to abolish the electoral college and have direct democracy. This would never work that well, for the noise ratio would be too great. It would cause division and less thought, since you now are just considering the base majority. And people can be insanely stupid. Direct Democracy, like Socialism, is a great idea in theory. Too bad people just can't keep it.

The internet is kind of proving the point. Ron Paul is an internet super star. If I turned and trashed Ron Paul on this blog, I would get nine million angry people wishing me hot fiery death. Yet, despite this passion and seeming majority, Ron Paul gets at most seven to five percent of the vote, which is about typical for a third party candidate of sorts. Ron Paul and his somewhat extreme ideals just do not resonate with the interests of districts and states overall. Ron Paul garners on the internet a greater share of supporters than McCain, Hillary, or Obama combined. According to the internet, he should be president.

But that is not what every district wants. Some of his ideas would cause some serious hurt to the economy. Bringing back the gold standard unleashes a hilarious can of worms. You either will instantly render lots of dollars worthless or cause high inflation as prices adjust for too much money being backed by too little gold. Gold itself is traded on the market just like the dollar, so I don't understand the argument that it would stabilize the dollar. There are reasons, you see, why things happen, and the abandonment of the gold standard is one of them. People do not want the consequences. Each district overall does not vote for Ron Paul. He may have the majority of supporters but in each district they sound off that they do NOT want his revolution. And so we come to today. By the way, I'm assuming he has a majority as that is what some folks on the internet would have you believe. The fact that he isn't getting back large returns is due to conspiracies, I am told.

There is no filter on the internet to help you determine who and who isn't credible. And the internet itself isn't exactly verifiable. I could make ninety blogs which all agree with me and to an outside observer it would seem I really do have ninety supporters. Hell, you can see this with campbots. Stores boost traffic, and people trawling for stores cannot see if it's due to camping or not. Some bots are clever and not easy to find which makes it much more difficult.

And this leads to a culture of suspicion among those who don't hold the mainstream internet values and try to cut the bullshit, and even to some degree those in the internet culture. Everything is suspect. You see conspiracies everywhere and you can never be sure if the person on the other end is really keeping his word or not. I used to get this all the time, where someone would believe that I had scripted my saxophone to spy on this, or that I would steal it back somehow. People, especially on the Herald, trash trust based business such as the (admittedly stupid) meta card idea and banks.

We have this culture of suspicion. And that is where we then encounter this unionism style attitude and the defensive attitude that follows. When you do hit someone who agrees with you, you defend them unto death. Or if you hit someone who disagrees, who's to know it's not a troll trying to incite an argument? The very freedom of which the internet is so proud is a double edged sword. There are reasons why some limits to freedom are imposed. They are a necessary evil, which in real life serve to protect the greater good (like the fire in a movie theater clause in the first amendment). SL, and virtual worlds and games in general, is experiencing the growing pains as people bringing this common sense idea into a formerly lawless and anarchic meme land.

If only there could be compromise.