Sunday, May 31, 2009

The May Finale

This month I endeavored to write one post a day. I had hoped that such an exercise would ingrain some kind of schedule into my writing as well as refining my writing itself. Well, not so much refining as repetition.

And I have definitely found that when my face is ground into the wall, I get repetitive. Or it feels like it. Also, it really saps my energy and enthusiasm because my life is somewhat busy (see, there goes the repetition again!) and it takes me a while to think of something to write about. Running on a schedule made me write things I otherwise would have chucked into the recycle bin. Which is bad. Often times I had to resort to writing posts I gleaned from comments and my own diary. Once I think I used a fortune cookie. I've found that forcing myself to write something once a day leads to not nice things.

I managed thirty one posts in a month. My previous record was twenty-one. It really felt like an endurance marathon. It amazes me how some people can write in excess of fifty posts a month without breaking a sweat. However much neglect their real life gets cannot possibly create that much of a difference between they and I. How can one person have so much to talk about all the time? I can't even manage to find something to talk about every day, much less five or six things.

In summary, I am never doing this ever again. Thank you.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Seeking Knowledge?

Knowledge will not acquire you, you must acquire it.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Today, I woke up at 4 AM. Again. Why do I do this? It's clearly not healthy, and yet like clockwork I get up at 4 on the dot. It coincides precisely with the start of the ShamWow infomercial that plays on the TV and I think there may be a connection between the two.

I rolled and rolled over in bed, but it wasn't doing any good. I was up. Even turning the TV off didn't help. I was worried because I was expecting a call from my boss on whether to come in today or not, and I didn't want to be a seizing zombie while staring at a computer screen. Haha, I made a funny.

Anyway, I managed to get back to sleep around 6 AM, and then I woke up again at 11:20. It's either too hot or too cold, isn't it? Thank the Good Nunchuck that the Boss hadn't called, but I still had to rush out and catch the damn shuttle for class at 1. The stupid shuttle almost never runs on time. It should be automated, because the stupid drivers never want to drive.

Class was ok, and I managed not to sleep through the lecture. Even though I've taken this class twice now. I guess pleura is very interesting to my subconscious. Granted, it's very interesting anyway. Lab was excellent and I totally made up for Tuesday's horrible blunders. Three lungs, BAM! I was Hartmann just gunning down lungs. I was removing them like I'd been doing it since I was a foetus. I was so proud. Well, as proud as one can possibly be of such a thing, anyway.

Work ran late so I missed everyone again, and had to eat dinner at the cafe alone. That's probably just as well, because I totally reeked.

When I got home, I took a shower for about an hour. I swear it feels like the smell never comes out. I also disinfected my shoes. I need a new pair of shoes. Remind me later to get a new pair.

I think right now I'll play Second Life. I also should write a post. Gads, between the two of them I don't have nearly enough time. I might have to take drastic measures...

Hey, Diary, would you mind if I tore this page out and posted it alone? You don't? Oh, good. Thanks a bunch. You have no idea how much time you've saved me.

Tomorrow should be sunny, and that's always good. Hopefully it'll be as cool as it was today.

See ya tomorrow!


Anna J. Tsiolkovsky


Thursday, May 28, 2009


There is a growing realization that in Second Life I am becoming little more than a voice. The reasons are plentiful.

For one, Second Life just doesn't work for me like it used to. My paltry one gig of RAM just isn't cutting it anymore. I should get a better computer, but I won't. I can't afford one and I don't have the urge to attempt to build my own. Turning off Windlight and Voice makes the problem less noticeable, but if someone invites me to a primmy scripty build or a massive event I'm toast. Sunny side up.

And another is that I don't have the urge to do so. Since it rarely works pleasantly, the hassle of trying to run it kills all enthusiasm. And there has been hardly any events which have really caught my eye and whispered, "Attend me, Anna, for I shall be fun and entertaining and pretty please come?" I haven't really gone out to any clubs or live music since around last October. Discussion events have recently seemed to be repetitive and dominated by the same themes: What do the Lindens think of bots? What do we think about man-women (or guyrls, as someone coined)? What do you think causes lag? And so on. Maybe there is nothing left to pick over.

And of course, real life work and business is always intruding. If I have work to do at home, then Second Life is definitely out of the question for even if it worked smoothly alongside other programs (and it doesn't for me) the distraction would lead to nothing getting done at all. And getting fired is on my list of things to avoid, below getting my leg gnawed off and above becoming a Linden. I think in March I might have logged in twice, and never in February. That's how life rolls, I suppose.

The only compulsion for logging in at all is the few friends I've managed to make and keep (i.e. those who haven't completely left Second Life). That's about it. You're all wonderful people and I'm not just saying that because I'm kissing ass. It's a little of both. Also, I would like to add that you are all handsome and beautiful and super smart. Except for you, Bob, you stupid ugly idiot.

Why don't I build? Why don't I script? My theory is that when I can't move, I can't do either. That's a lie, because I can always find a nice quiet corner somewhere in the middle of Nowhere (is that an actual sim?) and peaceably build to my heart's content. I guess I just don't have the inspiration. That's an excuse to mask the truth (which is that I'm lazy).

OK, so now I have a new goal! I shall find something which I will desire to build, and then I will build it! I wish myself good luck.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wall Paper

Some time ago, I was a little saddened by the fact that my walls were depressingly bare.

An additional problem was my increasing collection of MRIs of my head. Something definitely had to be done with those as well.

The solution was elegant. I hung the images on my walls. I hung some christmas lights behind them so if I so desire I can light up the room with slices of my brain.

Why do people think this is weird?


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gender Madness... Again

Reading the Second Life Herald (a pastime I engage in whenever I'm bored at work), I notice the increasing amount of posts on the wonders of men playing as women and women playing as men and all that mess in between.

Reading it all, I can't help but wonder this to myself: "What is the big deal?"

Honestly, wasn't all this worked out of our systems way back around, oh say, 2006?

The things being said and proposed and explored today are mere imitations of the same arguments presented three years ago. Nothing new has been added to the table. The only difference is in the dates.

I wouldn't mind so much except that the general reaction has been one of a startled reaction, as if this is some new big deal. Personally, I think that unless something radically new has been thought about or uncovered or whatever, there's little point in repeating oneself over and over again when we can all google and find that specific post of your blog anyway.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stomach pains

I must have ate something last night I shouldn't have, because my stomach is killing me.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Spaceyness Crazyness

I'm finding that the space stage of Spore is extremely frustrating.

My 'empire' can only build one ship at a time for some reason. I wish I could have a small fleet of my ships, because when I ally with someone else and get theirs in my fleet, they tend to be useless. They don't really help me in trading or terraforming, and in combat they are about as useful as a bottle of detergent. Essentially, it's me versus the universe.

Lots of other empires want me dead. It becomes an almost Sisyphean task with the more militaristic empires which hate you by default. The problem is that you'll agree to do a mission which will improve the relationship. After I finish that mission, they'll become ambient about me and agree to let me do more go-fer tasks for them (go to planet X get object Y and bring it back to us, etc.). While I'm out on this second task, however, they'll demand a tribute which I often can't pay because it'll be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and I don't have the time to accumulate wealth because I'm too busy doing missions to trade (the trade routes seems to be useless after a while because prices will 'normalize' rather quickly). When I can't pay, they hate me again. When I finish the mission, they become ambient and agree to let me do a mission for them. While I'm out, they demand tribute. I can't pay, so they hate me. When I finish the current mission, they become ambient. While out on another mission for them, they demand tribute...

I become tempted to blast them off the face of the galaxy, except that fighting is terrible. First, your ship is a one ship fleet versus the opponents' almost always overwhelming numbers. Second, your weapons are weak and more suited to blasting innocent animals like chickens or cows. Third, while trying to fight, your opponents will change altitude very frequently. I can't do the same, because there's only two options: in the planet's atmosphere or in the orbit high above, and once you're in orbit, you can't target anything. So you have to maneuver the camera since you're stuck at a pre-set height above the planet's surface trying to see enemies high above you which sometimes your weapons can't reach. There's no option to 'lock onto' your opponent so you have to constantly click on your target. It's more frustrating than attempting to do the missions without paying tribute.

I tried to expand my empire because at the time I held the mistaken belief that more colonies would allow me a bigger fleet. It increased resource production, but for some reason I can only plot three trade routes, so I have to pick up the resources and sell them manually which is a chore but the only way to make money. And now, with all the colonies, I've discovered that, no matter how many turrents I place, they can't defend themselves from pirates. Lately, I've been letting the pirates just have their way because the only effect is that any potential resources that have built up is gone so the colony has to harvest again, and since I visit infrequently anyway and their storage caps out after a while, the pirates are actually doing me a favor.

In addition, you can only mine resources on planets that are earthlike, which means terraforming. That isn't so bad, what is bad is that you have to fetch animals and plants to put on your newly terraformed planet or else it goes to hell again. And that isn't so bad (if a bit repetitive). What's nasty is that the ecosystem will go out of wack and the colony will beg you to fix it (usually by shooting something, like, say, infected animals). Why they can't fix it themselves, I have no idea. Why do they need me to shoot these animals when they have jet fighters that could do the same thing?

So, with my large empire of six planets, I'm always torn between one of them which is being raided or in need of ecoextermination. And the game actually prods you to create more. As if I need a bigger migraine. I can't see why I need more, when the few I do have (I say few because there's at least hundreds of planets in my tiny sector of the galaxy and I have six of them) already produce all the different kinds of resources that you can ever sell.

What I've been doing instead is to mindlessly flirt throughout the galaxy, checking out any primitive tribes and nations I stumble upon (not interfering, of course!), and finding some ancient tablets or something which don't seem to do anything but sell for a lot of money. Plus, if you run into a hostile empire, the game is pretty generous in that you don't get that damaged trying to escape a giant swarm of spacecraft.

Spore must have borrowed heavily from Star Trek, because exploring and doing the occasional mission is what is more fun and easier than attempting to build a galactic empire. I can completely understand why the Empire in Star Wars would build a Death Star (and as I understand it, there is an actual 'planet destroyer' weapon you can unlock somewhere).


Friday, May 22, 2009

Parking Lots Everywhere

Philadelphia should be known as "Parking Lot Capitol of the World". The Birthplace of the American Revolution is also home to the Resting Places of the Automobile. Note this isn't even parking garages. This is parking lots. Flat surface parking lots. Even in the middle of Center City these lots dot the landscape. Imagine if, at Times Square, there was a giant parking lot on one side. If Times Square was in Philly, I guarantee there would be a parking lot there.

Fairmount Park is the largest park in Philadelphia, part of a large complex that dots the city. All things considered, it's rather lovely. If you found yourself there, only the skyline could convince you that, yes, you are in the City of Brotherly Shootings. In an otherwise dreary city, it's a breath of fresh air, indeed.

The City thought this over. Hmm, we have this rather nice park system. And we are in desperate need of cash (we recently had to close a ton of libraries among other things due to budget constraints). Lots of research was put into how to cut the deficit. They knew they wanted to do something with Fairmount. What could it be?

Oh! They had a flash of inspiration. And here was the great idea:

Well, they suggested catering facilities and museums. Ok, that sounds alright. Everyone likes catering while they're out. And museums are always nice to stand around in and say to yourself, "gee, that's a lot of stuff". Still, it didn't sound like enough...

Wait, let's make some meeting areas. Let's build some meeting houses in there. That sounds good. That's certain to bring in a lot of cash. But there's always...

Bigger better conference centers! Still...

Single family residences! Yes, for a price you can live in a park! A detached, single family dwelling. Is it a suburb or a city? A little bit of this, a little bit of that. But, if you think erecting residences in the middle of a supposedly public park is pretty bad, just get a load of their final idea...

wait for it...

wait for it...

wait for it...

C'mon, you know what's going to mentioned, right?

Yep, parking lots. Parking lots, which, begrudgingly, may be adjacent and a function of the above. It was killing them that they couldn't just be stand alone lots. And I'm not talking about the ol' unpaved dirt/gravel lot, either, which might blend in somewhat. No, this is asphalt. ASPHALT!

To give a sense of just how stupid this is, picture Central park. Now picture it riddled with parking lots. Yes, that stupid.

I swear, sometimes the City is trying to destroy itself. At least this proposal was shot down.


Thursday, May 21, 2009


I picked up 'Spore' the other day. While the game itself is fun, if a bit simple and a tad too easy, I have to berate it for getting evolution wrong.

In 'Spore', their concept of evolution is a progressive Intelligent Design. The creature in question depends upon the player to add parts which may or may not be related to anything you've actually done in the game. Some may point out that there is a token evolution in that if you are a consistent predator, you can only unlock predator style parts, but I dismiss that as part of any normal game mechanics. According to the game, I can 'evolve' from a snake to a giraffe within one generation with no intermediates or anything resembling logic.

It's innocent enough but it's irritating to me when the thing it touts as mimicking in the game is essentially shafted. There could have been ways of incorporating the idea without sacrificing it.

One confusing aspect was the transition between the 'tribal' stage and the 'civilization' stage. Because I'm a coward, I befriended the tribes of other creatures rather than outright killing them. At the end of the stage, there were tribes of intelligent snakes living alongside my terribly unoriginal dinosaurs (partly due to laziness, as the shape is easy to transition from the beginning cell stage). Upon progressing to 'Civilization' those snakes... just disappear. I scoured my planet's surface to no avail, those snakes were in oblivion. I guess in between winning the 'tribal' part and progressing to the 'civilization' era, my little band of saurians killed off their snake friends in a wonderful show of "et tu, brutus?"

Despite those complaints, it's immense fun as long as you don't think too hard about it.

Just that that evolution blunder really gets under my skin. It's just what the world needs: another wrong take on evolution. It was bad enough after Pokemon, after which I found a lot of people viewed evolution as leveling up and the next generation as always better or more powerful than the previous one. One confused individual thought that chimpanzees actually had leveled up into human beings (which is why we are physically weaker than chimps?).

Perhaps because it's a complicated and counter intuitive idea. The creature or plant in question doesn't have a say in it. There's no overreaching mind guiding it. It just is. And we, as creatures who designed and developed tools for thousands of years, cannot visualize this. A bronze tool is better than a stone tool, so we designed more bronze tools afterward. On outward appearances, camouflage is better than none at all, so stick insects must have designed their appearance to look like twigs. And chameleons have to be at the pinnacle, since they can change colors to fit in at will. Even better designed, since they're lizards which are obviously much better than insects because lizards are closer in relation to us than bugs. And that makes sense to us, because we ourselves design camouflaged clothing to blend in.

Or something. There's more to it than that.

But it doesn't work that way. Evolution is more of a pressure. It's a sort of balance between what's there, what could possibly be there, the drive to reproduce, and the environment in which that reproduction occurs. Sex drive is easy: everything wants to reproduce and make more of itself. That's about it.

However, factors can impede or facilitate this. Namely, the environment. The environment itself doesn't have a distinct conscienceness, it's just there. It more or less sets the boundaries. It's called 'natural selection' but that's something of a misnomer because it's not actively choosing anything. It behaves more as a filter. Picture it as a giant filter. For instance, it's hard to reproduce when you're melting due to your environment being a lava flow. The lava flow is not choosing you in particular, anymore than it would choose chickens as victims, either. It's just that the environmental filter we passed through didn't involve lava flows. So there was no particular reason why anything related to surviving and reproducing in a lava flow was necessary.

Then there's the 'what's there, what could be there'. It's also known as mutation, although not always does one need an entire new feature. In fact, sometimes you don't need to add anything at all. It all depends on natural selection. A mutation that enables a person to live in lava is not going to do well since there's no apparent need. Mutations themselves are random. Most of the time they're horribly bad, as anyone with muscular dystrophy and other genetic diseases will tell you. Sometimes they're neutral. Occasionally they're beneficial.

Mutations do not automatically mean something brand new. Often it's a retooling of some previous implement. For example, our spinal columns did not have to be 're-engineered' from scratch just because we became bipedal. Instead, our hips and spinal curvature adjusted from a horizontal to a vertical weight bearing. In fact, it's this hijacking of that nature which causes a lot of back problems and pains.

Now, let's tie it all together. The things best able to endure will reproduce. Usually this means a good allocation of energy and time. Natural selection will cut down those lesser abled, with mutations filling in the blanks on occasion.

The next consideration is that these things are occurring in tiny increments. Eyeballs and arms do not just suddenly appear, they slowly flow and develop over time in baby steps. Think of it as tweaking, or better yet, imagine it as adjusting the temperature of the shower. You just don't open up the head and have it the perfect temperature, but instead twist and adjust until the temperature is just right.

Now, let's look at the big picture. You have something attempting to survive and reproduce. The environment takes its toll upon the population, the ones who are able to reproduce (not necessarily the best or the brightest) will survive. This acts on an incremental scale, and flash fractures will not have the time to survive (jaguars transplanted to the south pole are just not going to do well), they won't have time to survive to reproduce, and they 'evolve' into extinction. Mutations, good or bad, thrown into the mix will help or hurt in the general aim. And it all works without any specific design in mind.

Perhaps we should look at an example. Something that's easy.

Let's say that we have a bunch of lizards. One day, some of our intrepid lizards wander into a cave, which collapses and traps them inside. They survive, but now they're stuck in the cave. The cave is obviously completely dark, but our lizards have good senses of sound and smell. Overall, they manage fairly well, aside from being in perpetual night.

Now, let's say one thing that pops up on occasion is near sightedness. Out in the world, being near sighted meant being unable to see dangers and opportunities at a distance, so near sighted lizards were eaten. Since they were eaten, they weren't able to reproduce and thus near sighted lizards are really rare. But in the cave, there's no way to see their own paws in front of their faces, so being near sighted isn't really all that bad. It slowly creeps into the population.

Now, let's say some of those lizards develop really bad eyesight. And that trait, too, does fairly well, because there's no need for efficient sight. Some of those bad eyes might be due to deformed eyes due to faulty eye genes or something. But it doesn't matter, because in the land of the eternal dark, the blind are on par with the sighted.

So, we get eyes in these lizards which are mostly useless. They remain there, but over this amount of time (long time), the genes governing them have not been subjected to the natural selection filter of broad daylight where it's necessary to spot that hawk swooping at you. Since there's no pressure, there's no quality control and things run wild.

Now, let's look at something else. Let's say one mutation causes skin coloration to degrade. Not by a lot, just a little, just slightly. They look just a little pale. And because of that, more energy can be directed towards sexy lizard time or other activities which will help the lizard with it to reproduce a lot. Lizards that spend a lot of energy developing full pigments (in the egg) and then maintaining that pigment (the cells need food/oxygen) will be left slightly out of the race, like a slightly overweight runner in a marathon.

Then, there's an even lighter color due to less pigment, so even more energy can be freed up. Those fully colored exotic lizards are progressively left behind. They spend a lot of energy trying to maintain the metabolism or whatever to keep the pigment, which doesn't aid in camouflage (the environment is totally dark) or in mating (it's hard to look attractive when no one can see) or knock some of the sunlight out (as with melanin, which in the cave is pointless). Eventually, you can reduce this all the way down until you have lizards which are complete albinos. Notice we didn't just have white lizards pop out over night. It was a progressive shift. It would be like watching paint dry, and then fade.

This shift can occur ever so slightly that we don't or can't notice. Sometimes, rarely, it can occur quickly. For instance, if you had type O blood during the Black Death, you were at a severe disadvantage as, if I recall correctly, people of that type had immune systems that did not recognize the disease, or something along those lines. Type O took a big hit. These days, while still rare, it's not such a disadvantage because there's medical treatment which enables someone to contract and survive the plague. The environmental pressure is removed.

The main goal is to get the next generation out. The best way to get there will usually win. The 'best way' may not necessarily be THE best way, but it works better than something weaker or nothing at all. Rarely (in fact never) will something completely new suddenly develop, what usually occurs is a hijacking of something else that 'jury rigs' to something else. But there's no deliberate attempt to adapt. It's all pressure and advantage.

It requires a lot of thinking to probably wrap your head around it, and there is a high chance that I've fumbled somewhere up in there. I believe it's due to this that people tend to simplify it or ignore it and such. It can be really difficult to really follow it through. Simplifications might also overlook the idea itself.

For instance, there's the popular "only the strongest survive", and the belief that it leads to selfishness and cruelty. How can we explain why people are nice? And why we think we should be nice? I do not know. That's the honest answer. I'm not that smart to be able to venture a guess. Does that mean there isn't an explanation? No.

"Survival of the fittest" has been used for social evolution. Capitalism usually employs this. Democracy too, to a degree in that the best ideas will survive a harsh look by the populace. The melting pot can be a variant of it. Parts of a culture are absorbed, and those which for whatever reason don't get through the filter (which isn't an active choice per se, it's more a passive feeling) don't join the general mass culture.

It does lead to a rather uncanny valley of culture. You look at it from the outside, and you see some familiar things, some unfamiliar. But, for better or for worse, it's become the culture. What you see has passed through the mental filters of the public and survives to continue on. It doesn't mean that what floats to the top is the best, or that what's dropped is the worst. It just... is.

Second Life is no different. We can see a steady progression, almost evolution in Second Life. There's the obvious in the game and grid appearance. Obviously way back in the day there was no windlight nor prim hair, and you had to walk fifteen (15!) miles from where you could teleport to where you wanted to go. That kind of evolution was Linden driven, Linden directed, with some small input from the residents. All things considered, it's not really evolution at all.

There has been a social evolution of sorts. There was a time where using the default linden skin and hair was only an indicator that you were poor. Over time, we've come to associate with newbies, or day old alts about to grief you, your spouse, and your children. This came about due to hard learned experience. The 'pressure' of learning too late that your house was filled with crap because a day old alt filled it with feces forced one to try to identify potential griefers. Some of those traits were young avatars, with default skins and hair. Now, newbies really feel an honest pressure to spice up their avatars early, and the Lindens are now even offering hair to complement the new 'newbie look'.

There's been less pressure to not consider Second Life a 'game'. I suppose back in the past this was a reaction, an attempt to separate it from those other games, like World of Warcraft, which everything on the internet is compared to at some time or another. These days? Everyone knows what Second Life is. Plus, everyone's tired of correcting newbies. I can remember when I swung the game label about in 2007, I was given a verbal beat down. 2009? No one cares.

Names were normalized. I can't remember meeting anyone with numbers in their name. Aside from one person (who used a 1 instead of an i in order to get his preferred name), everyone tended to chose fairly pedestrian first names. Now every Tom, Dick, and Harry57 has some form of counted names. Part of it may be due to such a massive influx of people who all want the name 'John'. Plus, a good number of them turned out to be fairly A-OK people.

It's an unconscious evolution. A few people have pointed out this progression, but for the rest of us it just slowly passes over us. It occurs in tiny steps.

If you told me two years ago that people would be asking the Lindens to not change things, I'd have called you crazy. But some of the Linden moves, such as attacking ageplay and moving adult content to a separate isolated continent, have people now asking them to stop changing things. After the implementation of Windlight, a good portion of Second Life felt that while it was pretty, it only added to the lag. Linden Lab's attitude towards grid repair changed, people's attitude towards the Lindens and the Grid changed.

I wonder how Second Life will evolve in the years to come. I can't recall the specific site, but one person suggested that Second Life itself has stabilized. The first few years were the initial testing phase, then a tremendous expansion as Second Life opened up, and now it's approaching a more stable population (since during the explosion the retention rate was abysmal). Now we're settling into a more stable pattern (whether this is the era of bots or a dedicated core of users is debatable) and probably cruise on that for a while.

Could it be a long and slow death? Or a peaceful glide into obscurity? Or a slow recovery to super stardom and the days of 900,000 concurrency? Who knows how its evolution will play out.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Terrible Day

Today was the worst day of this year thus far.

I got up two hours too early. The shower was stuck on cold. I almost choked on my pills. I missed the shuttle. When I tried to hit the El, it was off schedule and I got to work late. At work, I completely and utterly screwed up. What's worse is that everyone is smarter than I am, so any mistake is compounded by the fact that they probably look down and think, "whelp, can't expect too much, can we?" These are the people under me. I shudder to think of my boss' opinion. I missed the shuttle after work, so I walked home instead. It was about a few miles, but it was a nice day out (one of the few blessings today) and the (relatively) fresh air cheered me up. Then I got home and realized that the reason everyone was giving me a wide berth was because I reeked of formaldehyde. Then I realized I didn't have anything for dinner. So I have to order out or something.

Hopefully, this will remain my worst day of 2009. Or, even more hopefully, worst day for the coming decade.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I watched another person write something like this:

"A good segway makes the subject change seem like a natural extension of the discussion"

It's 'segue'. A good Segway does not involve subject changes. It involves rolling across pavement. The word you're looking for is 'segue'. SEGUE!

Ever since the segway came out, it's been a synonym for segue. It irritates me not because it's some company trademark co-opting the English language, it is because the two words are not interchangeable. For instance, if I ask for a Coke, a Coke is a type of soda, so using Coke as a synonym for soda is acceptable. Or if I remark that his head is as big as a Buick, a Buick is a type of car. Saying 'his head is as big as a car' is essentially the same as saying 'big as a Buick' (although there are multiple definitions of 'car', but you know what I mean). Noun-wise, they correspond somewhat.

Segue and Segway, though, are not related. One describes a vehicle and the other describes an aspect of conversation or writing. Here's a good example: 'He was arrested for dealing crack' and 'You cracked me up' are not similar. 'I sat on the chair' is not similar to 'today is saturday'. 'Bag' is not a synonym for 'Baguette'.

It probably, and this is speculation on my part, has to do with the look and sound of the word. Segue looks weird and sounds awkward. Slap a 'way' at the end and it's much easier to pronounce. It flows better. I'm not an expert in language, but that's how it feels to me.

So please remember: it's segue when you're talking in conversation. It's segway when you're riding the novel 'people mover'.


Monday, May 18, 2009


I missed Sunday. My drive to post a post every day of May has ended in failure and shame. A touch of relief has also settled in. No longer am I pressured to dreg the lowest levels of my brain for something to write about. So it's a mistake with little consequence.

I've made bigger mistakes.

"It's only pneumonia"

But then again, who hasn't? Mistakes are a fact of life.

That is why I hate the method with which university teaches. I understand that it's necessary to drill us for otherwise how can they (and future employers) be sure we truly know our stuff?

But that same method encourages us to hide our mistakes. We're taught that if something isn't caught by the professor, then it's not a mistake and it's best to just ignore it. Mistakes lead to lower grades and lower grades means a lower GPA and a lower GPA means you lag behind as your peers outcompete in opportunities.

And that story of the student who was honest and pointed out the professor made a mistake in grading? And how the professor, astounded at the student's honesty, awarded him extra points? Nonsense. I've done it twice and to no one's surprise the grade was lowered. In essence you are punished for admitting a mistake.

That's just simple exams. I've shit bricks when, after turning in a paper, I find a reference which obliterates whatever conclusion I reached. The only saving grace is that the professor has better things to do than place a stupid undergrad's paper under a microscope. New things refuting old things are a constant, but sloppy research is a whole beast altogether.

I feel that in the real world, hiding a mistake would be disastrous. You wouldn't want to cross a bridge in California knowing that one of the engineers behind it hid the fact that a magnitude 5 earthquake would topple the entire things. Or take a drug from a company which hid the fact that it causes heart failure from the FDA or something. You just don't do those things. Do they?

"You'll get over it"

But the biggest mistakes of all involve life and death. You definitely don't want to be on the receiving end of the mistake of crossing when the light is red. Or worse: someone mistakenly attempting to drive through a red light while you're crossing the street. A girl last year was the victim of such a mistake when a bus plowed into her (the best part was a remark from one of the drivers stuck in the resulting traffic: "Just drag her off the road!").

Even God makes mistakes. There is no explanation otherwise for such things as getting lost in the desert for forty years (oh sure, excuse it away as 'punishment') or the appendix (why isn't it in the main body of the book? Why does it need to be stuck on my intestine?). Also, good job on preventing us from seeing in the ultraviolet spectrum, letting those bees have a monopoly on the true colors of flowers.


What's the best remedy for mistakes? The ideal 'world peace' answer would be to admit to them. Let honesty flow from your veins and have the truth cleanse you. Whatever that means. By admitting your dumb idiocy, steps can be taken to fix the horrible mess you've likely made.

People being people, they'll try to fix it without anyone noticing. I'm so guilty of this. It tends to work only when you know what you've done in the first place.

Blame it on someone else! Then your mistake turns into a lie, which is a whole 'nother bag of nasty.

Or, arguably the worst (best for spectators) option is to let it fester and watch the resulting fireworks. If it's small, no one will care. If it's big enough...

Finally, there is one final mistake which I've just committed. I attempted to write a post within ten minutes in order to get it published today (I swear I'll keep up the May madness!!!).


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Archives are Awesome

I often wonder how many people ever go back and read all the back logs of any blog. Your typical blog runs for about a year and accumulates on average twenty to thirty posts. It's not so hard to sit down and read them in a few hours if one is so inclined. The task is made even simpler if each post is under three hundred words which they usually are.

But what about some of the older, more established blogs? Like Prokofy or Torley or Gwyn? We're talking people who have been at it since at least 2004, almost five years ago. Prokofy, especially, can write in volumes. Who has time to read all that? Yet, the curiosity is killer. Imagine what gems might be hidden under those months of posts, crammed in there between "I'm on hiatus" and "Today I ate a slug".

When I come across a new blog I have an obsessive compulsion to read the entire archives. All of 'em. Sometimes it's the thrill of feeling like a virtual archaeologist. And sometimes it's just to get a feel for the writer. By the way, to get a feel for me as a reader, be aware that I read the entire backlog of Second Thoughts. Even the chatlogs. Chew on that for a while.

Sometimes I feel that a good blog is like a good book, and when I like the articles I see posted in the recent, I want to read it from the beginning. I love writers like that. Prad was one in particular where I read through the entire archives just to watch him go. Seeing a huge volume of archives excites me!

It's sad that, realistically, all those words are more-or-less going down the drain after about a week. Posts agonizingly labored over and revised and spell checked and researched enjoy the spotlight for a brief glimpse of time and then are shown off stage where they turn to drugs and alcohol and eventual obscurity. It feels like such a waste. Hey, it sounds exactly like a high school research paper. Effort and effort on a paper which, after it is graded, is thrown away or posted online so others can plagiarize it.

Maybe it's just the angle I'm looking at blogs. The alternative might be that blogs are just vehicles for updates and the occasional discussion. Once the debate has closed or the update is notified, it's squirreled away since there's no more use for it. It's archived just in case one wants to reference it ('you said so and so in here when' or 'we fixed this back then'). To them, it's a newspaper. They only want and have need of the latest and greatest.

I tend to land in the middle. I treat my blog as both a kind of (poor) track of updates about Second Life with a smattering of random tangents and musings. Lately it's been leaning towards the latter as I find myself thinking less about Second Life and more about Second Life (wrap your head around that one). Also because at the pace I'm trying to set this May, Second Life hasn't been pulsing as fast as I need to post.

I feel no love lost for the post I've thrown up in the heat of the moment to inform all eight of my readers about what Linden Lab has broken now. But a good half is not related to Second Life news, and half of that half are things which I feel are truly good and not deserving of the status of 'post to be cast away later'. They all get buried together. I've tried to tag some for meager organization but at a certain point even that category will fill and essentially become its own blog.

The feeling sometimes strikes me that my time would be better served not expending the time and effort on flash-in-the-pan one shots and focused on maybe actually just writing a book. A small book. Short story? Something tangible that would not get lost in the general background noise of the average blog. Something that would stand unto its own.

Something doesn't quite sit well with me doing that, however. There's some essence which I can't place that would be lost. For one, that would mean I would have to waste mind power towards a well written focus. Publication would be a pain (and frankly, in the end I doubt anything would be worthy anyway). The chances of any success are hilariously slim.

With a blog, I get drowned in my own noise. But I'm free with editing and publishing. Log into blogger, hit 'create', rap out some random post, hit 'publish post', and done. No muss, no fuss. Instantly available for the entire world to examine and/or enjoy. In addition, comments add so much flavor. Your critics don't have to publish on their own blog or paper, they can just rip on you on the very same publication! The convenience is undeniable.

I think I'll stick with blogging.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Best Feedback Ever!

The best feedback on that article? Wow.

This reinforces my belief that I should write more posts punch drunk at 3 AM in the morning. If it works for comments it should work for posting!


Thursday, May 14, 2009


Metaplace opened today. I haven't joined it.

My big problem is that between Second Life and Real Life, I really don't have the time to dabble in yet another virtual world. My previous jaunts in MeetMe, Twinity, There, and HiPiHi were short lived partly for the same reason.

I know if I create a Metaplace account, I'll use it for a week (at most) and then drop it. I'm saving myself the energy and time by not bothering.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Replacing Posts with Comments!

I've reached an all new low in posting quality and am now going to just post a comment I wrote on this blog. Yes, that's sad. I spent more time drafting a comment than actually trying to, you know, write a post on this blog. Shame on me.

Begin Quote:

Work was slow today, so I went ahead and read the entire thing.

It seems to me that people are/were confusing what is legal with what is morally ethical. According to your research, Minnu did not violate the EULA at the time. But the way she did it struck a chord with people. They knew/know something is not quite right, and that something should be done.

In each post and the resulting comments, a constant hymn was that Minnu was ethically wrong for 'stealing' skins. Ok. That's fair enough. But due to the license, she could and was able to do so legally. That's all there is to it. Ethics, morality, and all that, however noble, cannot deny that there was nothing to prevent her from doing so. If there is a case.

For a real life example, many consider abortion to be ethically wrong. However, it's legal according to the law and no matter how much mewing is done by however many people (barring another bill or court case) it will remain legal.

The take home lesson here should be that if you're going to release something, draft a license so specific people won't be able to wipe their nose with it without your permission.

As for irresponsible blogging, this really isn't much of a surprise. I'd wager about 95% of bloggers aren't any kind of journalists, just regular ol' people banging away at the keyboard (before everyone leaps on me, know I'm one of that 95%). Doing research and covering a story is HARD work and often bloggers are just not going to care. Throw in a lack of editors and you get things like this.

The wonderful part about the internet is that everyone is free to express their opinions. The sad part is that automatically shuts down the typical user's inhibitions.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rheta and Apathy

Rheta Shan died in real life, and died in Second Life. There is at the time of this writing already a massive outpouring of grief and sadness. It seems that everyone feels the sting of this loss. Even for those skeptical of the real life explanation there is pain in knowing that the Second Life avatar they knew isn't coming back.

I should be upset. I should be sad. Shouldn't I? Yet, I can't bring myself to care.

Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care.

The problem lies in Rheta being a complete stranger. Who is Rheta? What did she do? I have no idea. We've never met in Second Life and I'm confident I never knew her in real life. She is a complete stranger (I'm probably worse off for it).

How can I care about someone I never knew? All I have is her blog, which from the sounds of the survivor, might be taken down someday. Her blog is voluminous, having been active since August 2007. I can't take the time to read all that! It'd take at least... two days. I can't even be bothered to read my own blog. She'll remain forever obscure in my heart.

Everyone talks about apathy, but no one does anything about it

Prokofy made some commotion concerning whether this is a real death or a faked one so as to enable the user to quit with a conscience. And of course you have people for or against the idea who are fervently posting their opinions and arguments (more of the former than the latter). I've been reading it and I've found... I don't care. I honestly don't care.

How can I possibly care whether I've been fooled or not when the jury is still out whether I should care in the first place? To get involved in that debate requires concern for the state of the first point and since I don't care about it in the first place, it's moot to me.

I feel like a cold hearted evil person because this person has died and my response is a mere twenty sentence discussing whether or not I should care or not. But I harbor no ill will. I don't wish she was dead. I just can't get excited one way or the other.

Maybe I need to get out more and meet more Second Life people so when they die or leave I can write more sadness.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Alternative Universe

I was thinking about what I would be like in an alternative universe. The usual speculation is that your alternative self is your exact opposite in every trait. So, for instance, in the Alternative Universe I'm actually a good writer.

But let's go further. There's a long way to go, after all, it's a big universes. The possibilities are infinite. And here is the conclusion I reached.

In an alternative universe, everything is the complete opposite, to which we have always assumed would mean that good people would be evil, dogs would be cats, and Jurin would be Juran, an evil greedy land baron who uses Copybot and runs an illegal underground casino in the grid of 'Alternate Existence' which the weak and ineffectual Lindens.

That's all well and good, but what about me? Well, what is my complete opposite? What is the Anti-Anna Tsiolkovsky? What would she be like??!?!

Well, let's consider. I exist. Everyday, I'm here writing about things, and playing in Second Life, and holding down a real life job, and trying to consume the jelly beans my little sister dumped on me because she couldn't eat them all. Everyday I grace your existences! So, what's the opposite of existing? That's right: not existing.

In an alternative universe, Anna Tsiolkovsky would not exist. No goatee, no good twin (assuming I'm the evil version of myself), nothing. I'd simply cease to be as that is my polar opposite.

So if any of you are planning to visit an alternate universe and give me a call, don't bother because I won't exist. Steer clear of Juran, though. I hear she kicks puppies.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Linden Prize Double Take

So, let's get this straight. Linden Lab awarded the Linden Prize to Wikitecture because they integrate Second Life into real life projects. When Hamlet interviews this group, they say they are moving away from Second Life itself to OpenSims and their kin. How embarrassing!

It's not too surprising, though, considering that these nominees were nominated quite a few months ago. In Second Life, months are akin to decades with our rate of churn.

And let's consider Wikitecture itself. On its very website, it treats Second Life the same way any other college and university treats it. To them, it's just a giant collaboration project. All this unnecessary grid on the side that's getting in the way doesn't matter to them. In fact, in view of their needs, their movement towards gaining a sim of their own is perfect as they no longer have to deal with the lag and potential nastiness that might flow in.

Their winning of the Linden Prize does not betray this move, because they are still using Second Life the Platform. They're just not using Second Life the Grid. Completely different things, I assure you, and as Linden Lab gave the prize to those utilizing Second Life the Platform in a real life manner, they really have won honestly. Any accusations otherwise are unfounded.


Saturday, May 9, 2009


Why is it that in Second Life, where anything is possible,

we still yearn for mundane real world things?


Friday, May 8, 2009


The word 'friday' is a great one. The way it alliterates with 'final' which accents its proper place as the 'final' day of the week is but one of the ways it fits perfectly. On a friday, I sit on the bus and think to myself, ah another week down. Perhaps if the weekend is sunny I'll go down the beach (summer is almost here!).

Friday is a good wood for a good day at a good time.


Thursday, May 7, 2009


There is a zero to zero chance of me ever actually obtaining a pilot's license or an airplane. In fact, I think it's illegal in twenty two states for me to have either (same to you, Missouri). In fact, it's illegal in all of them. Screw you, FAA.

Thus, I buzz about Second Life in planes of my own making. Half of which are horrible failures. When they do work, Second Life and its sim seams eat the remaining half. It's not terribly hard scripting them as I just tweak the one I got (it was a freebie which is all but unrecognizable from its original form). It's not terribly hard building them either, as in SL I can completely disregard all laws of physics. I could build a flying sofa if I so wanted.

Most of my planes are pretty vanilla. But I like them that way. I'm totally a traditionalist. I'm boring that way. On the other hand, it does cut down on IMs inquiring as to why I am flying a giant turd.

I'm also traditional in how I like my planes to fly. None of that mouse view junk. Or that one plane which required inputting half a million commands just to take off. Give me a throttle and a control stick, maybe some rudder, and I'll be set. Simple as can be without all that junk in the interface. Half of it is pure junk. 'Press T and chat '/2 gurp' to execute so and so maneuver'.... why bother when I can just pull the same stunt with a little action on the arrow keys and throttling down a bit?

Some may complain ban lines interrupt their flight, but go up a hundred meters or so, up above the clouds, and you can go anywhere. With Windlight, it's really beautiful. And if you really really have to absolutely touch the ground, well, find a linden sea or park and swoop in a little bit. By definition, the airplane should be in the air, anyway.

Having to focus your energies on altitude maintenance is relaxing. It's also fun attempting to IM friends while pulling off barrel rolls. I'm not nearly that big of a thrill seeker (SL's lag discourages such things anyway, a little lag and you'll find yourself embedded in someone's house fast). No, I'm quite content to just watch the sun on the water in Windlight while chugging across the landscape, blissful of everything down below. Above your petty squabbles and concerns of intellectual property. Ah, escape.

I love it. But I still wish I could break half a dozen regulations in real life.

Oh well.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Canary in the Coal Mine

Ah, Prokofy can add another notch to the 'U GONNA GIT BANN'D' belt.

I think it's unsettling to think that they're putting a knife to his throat on the objection to what he writes. Sure, he goes off like a bottle rocket sometimes over nonsense issues you or I could not care less about. On the whole, however, he does raise interesting points. Discussion would be poorer for lack of him.

Also, I regard him as a sort of 'test' of Linden Lab. Prok doesn't pull his punches but he's not outright flaming, either. He's that curious mix that you want to hate and report and shut up but hasn't ever actually done anything. He's a polarizer. If Second Life were Korea, he'd plant himself right up along the border and moon the North.

In short, he makes me feel safe. As long as LL tolerates him well enough, I can rant and rage on my own, smaller, scale and be immune from complete punishment! If he goes, what's to stop a small fry like me from being smeared across the floor?

I can only hope my active campaign of non-action in Second Life can protect me.

Snapshots and Suits

There's talk (and has been for quite some time now) about the potential of screenshots in Second Life. Specifically, the potential for lawsuits! We can't get enough of those. If there is one thing SL has a definite lack it's lawsuits.

The idea is that your snapshot will inevitably contain images of another's work. And since it's a virtual image with virtual pixels and all that, the snapshooter committed the grand sin of theft and copyright violation. Especially with builds, which people seem to be treating as 2D paintings rather than the three dimensional experience they are supposed to be.

Hey, remember those days? The good ol' days when a good build would attract everyone, be blogged about, have billions of pictures taken of them, and be fondly remembered forever and ever. No one seemed to complain and people still seemed to make a living. I can't recall Light Waves banging on my door demanding I forfeit up some cash for the three or so screenshots I took of his builds.

There's no standing for such measures. A snapshot is a snapshot. Even if the intent is to be artistic, I don't see Campbell suing Andy Warhol. And Warhol was nothing if not intent on making a buck. Just because your super special awesome build or toy is in the frame does not mean you can sue me into oblivion and back because I didn't properly credit you if you even allow it at all.

I guess this is an overreaction to the fact that rights can be trampled easily in Second Life. When copybot can swoop in and steal everything (and even just regular ol' people imitating your creations), you lash at everything and possessing digital images of your work becomes a fair target. But I think we all need to step back and consider what is acceptable use and what isn't before we turn on each other and ruin the whole pot.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Left Handed Mayhem

People who are left handed creep me out. Sinister used to mean 'left' and there's good reason for it.

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: it's pretty damn inconvenient to write with the opposite hand. Why would anyone ever bother? I've seen lefties with horrible dirty smudges running up their palms which stick even after repeated washings. It harms their scribbles (I'm being generous there by calling their chicken scratch 'scribbles') as well. Most of it appears to come hot off an old fashion printing press with ink slurs across the entire page. Ugh.

And then their accommodations tax both time and sanity. I had the misfortune to have to sit in a left handed disk and the experience of reaching across the desk to be able to write was unbearable. My elbow kept drooping down into my legs and sometimes near the end of sentences and equations my palm would slip. This all forced a huddled position across the arm of the desk. I swear one kid in our class who was left handed was watching me and he had this grin plastered across his face. I wanted to wipe it off with his smudge filled (and probably completely wrong and failing) test sheet.

Ambidextrous scissors seemed like a good idea. Too bad it hurts my hands. By trying to accommodate people of both handedness, they ended up making everyone uncomfortable. All this because some southpaws whined and moaned about how their fingers hurt. Now everyone's miserable! Thanks for nothing. The same applies to every other implement which are just better right handed. There's a reason why right handedness is predominant, and that's because so many things work better on the right. Scissors worked great on the right. In the middle, they stink.

Left handedness has been associated with extreme evil. Harry S Truman was left handed, and he cold heartedly dropped two atomic bombs on two innocent Japanese cities. Seriously, how did he sleep at night? The right handed FDR managed to never nuke any German, Italian, or Japanese city. In comes the lefty and bam. Two down in a row. Hitler and Stalin were also left handed and seriously, do I really need to explain it in those cases? The list goes on and on. Napoleon was left handed as is Fidel Castro. Jack the Ripper and Atilla the Hun round out the list. So, we know there is a pattern of left handed people behaving as generally evil people.

I think the primary cause is their cross wired brains. You see, in a normal ordinary right handed person, the dominant side is the left side of the brain. Whereas in the left handed abomination, it shifts to the opposite. Now, the right side of the brain was never meant for dominance. As a result, over the centuries it has accumulated a vast array of defects and oddities. Things the left side of the brain knew it needed a little of, but didn't want completely overruling everything. But now, in a lefty's brain, such detrimental waste is brought to the forefront with disastrous consequences.

For example, one of the acclaims is that lefties are more intelligent than comparable right handers. But is this really the case? As we discussed above, many lefties are inherently evil. We should also notice that said lefties were also intelligently evil. To a degree, anyway. Their evil was systematic and executed with cunning forethought. For example, Jack the Ripper chose to murder in a time period where criminal investigations were delightfully shoddy. That is sheer evil left genius. Intelligence, yes, but at the price of being unable to utilize such genius in any field for the betterment of the human race. In a way, we should pity them as they cannot help what they are.

There's also talk that they are more creative than 'Northpaws'. This is due to sheer luck. You see, one of the nasty things driven from the left side of the cerebrum is the emphasis on visual and simultaneous processing. This is bad because on a given problem, a southpaw become a Jack of all trades, master of none. Nothing gets done because they spend too much time looking at the big picture and thus cannot find any solution.

No such problem in the proper right handed individual, however. The unique logical and linear analysis exclusive to that hemisphere is perfectly suited to breaking down a task and solving a problem in detail. Thus, work can get accomplished as well as be properly documented so that future generations can build upon it (rather than: "hey, this works to solve the entire thing! Let's run with it!" silly lefties). Things get done in an organized manner without all that 'craetive' nonsense the leftist idiots will lob at you.

There are some things which, thankfully, work against them. On average, their lifespans are nine years shorter. Most of it is due to being unable to function in our society. Their unnatural handedness can easily lead to accidents while driving cars or operating heavy machinery where the machines are finely tuned to the right (as they should be, if they were reversed far more accidents would occur). In addition, the genes which cause left handedness probably also cause epilepsy, autism, dyslexia, and Down syndrome; all of which are detrimental to surviving in our world. Epilepsy and Down syndrome are particularly nasty. Imagine if your surgeon was an epileptic left hander? No thanks. Epileptic left handers flying right handed airplanes probably die by the truckloads. It's probably for the best because being left handed is a severe impediment and as I've established, they're evil.

Left handed people are evil. And it is only through the grace of divine Providence that they only compose 7% of the population. That's enough evil for one world.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Six Birthdays

This coming June, Second Life is going to be six years old. Just step and think about that. Six whole years of lag, naked noobies, and general insanity. It's the better part of a decade. Six years is longer than a single presidential term (in the United States, anyway). In fact, it's one and a half terms in office according to that metric.

We've seen a lot in those six years. Let's not get goofy, however, because comparisons between way back then and the right here and now have been done to death. "We didn't have skins, point to point teleporting, and we have to walk fifteen miles uphill both ways to reach the sandbox in order to build. Newbies these days don't have no idea how good they got it!" That's just way too easy.

The harder angle would be what's changed over this past year.

I think in terms of technical progress, nothing groundbreaking was unveiled. Nothing revolutionary was put to market. SL is still as laggy as it ever was and any significant changes towards stability have been lost on me (and, it seems, a good 60% of the rest of the population). For all of the opensourcing of the viewer, I haven't seen any high visible third party viewers, either. I still use the Nicholaz client, especially when the latest Linden experiment to 'lower' lag backfires.

The Lindens have exerted their significant muscle with more pressure than any other year. With the acquisition of XstreetSL and Onrez, they effectively circled the wagons with regards to the economy. Their fingers are in all the outlets. With the ramping of activity of the DPW moles and the creation of themed continents, competition is extending into the land itself. This wasn't simply an auction of the land, but the physical creation of an essential atmosphere. Granted, their attempts fell somewhat flat if you've seen Nautilus or Bay City these days. However, when they can't bootstrap, they glomp onto the next best thing. They went and tacked the United Sailing Sims (or whatever that USS acronym stood for) onto Nautilus and declared it 'good'.

We also witnessed Linden Lab making moves to control Second Life. For all their bluster about allowing the world to be free and easy, their actions have spoken otherwise. Not a few months ago, Jack Linden sat down and discussed bots and what to do about them. In addition, there's talk of moving against traffic fraud. Ad farms were finally flogged back around October or so of '08 with the caveat that ads without extortion are a-ok. They have a big stick and they're starting to play with it. It hasn't been pleasant all the way, either, because Openspaces and the move to treat them as regular sims on billing hurt. Hard.

Of course, the most notable example in these times has been the 'Adults Only' move. This was a resounding shot that yes, indeed, age verification is going to go ahead. The kinks have been worked out (you can use your credit card if you're disinclined to use your IDs) and full implementation is upon us. If you have adult content (specifically, adult content in the public domain and in public search), you must take it out of the limelight. Get your sex club offa our mainland! An option in the abuse report menu allows one to report the mislabeling of such content. The buzz word is 'predictability'. The Lindens are trying to force a Second Life experience that can be predictably controlled.

The outside venues of SL were revamped. The website and blogs got a much needed face lift, although the results are mixed. The new website has a pleasing design. The only gripe is the lack of ability to teleport to the locations and events featured on it. Same goes for the splash screen on the viewer log-in. I want to reach out and touch these places, but they're behind a glass wall. The new blog site is ok. All the categories have been butchered and you have to click around on everything to make sure you're really up to date on the latest comings and going of Linden Lab. Clunky, is the word, but not in the sense of being slow to load. Even the forums later got a good wash (I'm not a frequent visitor there, so I'm not sure how that change went).

And all the while the Second Life economy has... stalled. It hasn't continued its astronomical boon from 2007, but it hasn't completely went bust, either. It's doing what any other normal economy is doing, and that's existing. Doing its... economic thing. Stability, I think it's called. It's keeping in theme with the new mantra of SL: "predictability". It might be tougher to enter the market but once you're in you're alright. As long as you keep at. The moment you slip, the sharks'll get you.

Kendra Bancroft died. Lindens left. Sarah Nerd went out of business. Lots of churn. And yet life goes on. People flocked to some new worlds, and then came back. Lively came and died so fast heads twirled. Metaplace has come out, but I haven't visited it yet and I believe it's still in beta. Some of the bigger news blogs and agencies have pulled out as well. No one seems to notice or care. Unless it directly impacts them, no one stands up and shouts. They may glance up from their own personal blogs and put up a quick two paragraph eulogy. If that.

OpenSim has progressed, but not nearly as fast as initially anticipated. From the reports in '07 and '08, you'd think there would be a sim in every garage. The initial eureka moment over being able to host SL sims independent of LL's servers and reach led to all sorts of crazy reports. It reminds me of the predictions made in the '70s about life as it would be today. Astronomical imaginations of cities on the moon and flying cars gave way to reality: that stuff is hard! So it is with OpenSim. It's getting there. But that stuff is hard! And the big issues aren't really technical. Do I trust you with my log-in? With my copyrighted materials? That's funny.

We witnesses two major competitions: the Linden Prize and the Resident Choice Awards. The Linden prize was notable for being strictly inhouse and up to the judgement of the Lindens. You could sign up for a nomination, but they made the final judgement call. Upon seeing residents weren't keen on awards given without their input, the Resident choice awards were created and of course created whole new controversy. I could write volumes about it and it seems almost everyone had an opinion on it. Everyone seems to agree that something was not quite right about the entire thing. It felt shoddy to some.

And then there's me. This year will be my third in Second Life. Three entire years. Depending on who you ask, it's either a waste of time or a waste of energy. I kid. But I marvel at how I've seen a good half of Second Life's existence. At the people I've met, the friends I've made (and lost), the things I've seen and built, and all the things still left to see. Ah, I just can't wait until next year!


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jelly Beans

Jelly beans are a concoction of the devil. Not only does their gooey consistency encourage cavities and dental decay, their small size lures you into a devious slippery slope. One, on its own, tastes quite good. Two is better. But they're small so two can't hurt. A third is eaten on the basis that if two small ones are alright, three can't be much worse. It all goes downhill from there.

Candy corn is kind of similar. It is also a small confection that is irresistible. Thank the Lord that Halloween is the exclusive haunt of this candy. But jelly beans know no boundaries and that's what makes them so dangerous. They're an all year threat. They don't peg onto a single holiday, although they can be partial to Easter. This candy train never hits the last stop.

Someone needs to stop me. I'll just keep eating and eating them. I can't stop myself! Oh god, save me!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


There's a skeleton in our closet. A very big and very old one.

It's plastic.

It's an old teaching aid that is trotted out dutifully for daily classes. It's fully articulated (which makes it a pain to move, all the joints flop about) and even markings for muscle and tendon attachments. Little yellow plastic strings stick out of the spine to illustrate the central nervous system. It's an old warrior who is fast approaching forty years of duty (thirty six, but who's counting?).

The poor fellow is slowly rotting and wearing away. Years of abuse at the hands of professors attempting to maintain the interest of their students by demonstrating just why the elbow does not bend that way have taken their toll and the screws holding all the joints are starting to give. Recently, an entire arm fell off at the shoulder. This thing does not have much longer to exist.

To be fair, despite its age and the image I have painted above, it still enjoys good health. The problem lies in the screws, they are getting stripped from their sockets. The epoxy resin is giving to the strain of the weight behind the screws. Or so it would seem. I suspect part of it is also attributable to the aforementioned professors who enjoy whipping the arms and legs around. This essentially turns the limbs into a giant screwdriver which if throw in the right direction will unscrew the limb from the rest of it.

So the arm fell off. We're set to receive a brand new one and here's to hoping it lasts as long as its predecessor. In the mean time, we're having fun playing with the detached arm in the usual and completely unoriginal ways. "Can you lend me a hand? chuckle". Shoving it up your sleeve to replace your actual arm. Using it as a pointer. And in general just playing around with it. We're childish that way. Somehow the bony arm holds a magical 'fun' property. Perhaps it harbors some power to keep one endlessly entertained.

Then, one day, something both surprising and terrible occurred. Someone replaced the arm to its rightful owner.

What's frightening and mysterious is that no one seems to have done it. We've asked everyone in the building and no one touched either arm or skeleton the day it magically reattached its own arm. Very few have access to the storage closet in the first place! Some entity came in the dead of night and reacquainted our old friend with his detached limb. Some entity with the power to evade security, gain access to the locked closet, and screw the arm back into place with some implement available to it as we don't keep tools in there either. It's quite a mystery, wouldn't you agree?





...I know who did it.

It was me.

But would I ever tell anyone? No. In fact, I'll never tell any of them.


Because what's life without a little mystery to it? Right now, there is unease around the building about who did it. Scientists, dedicated to finding the facts and determining explanations for the world around them, are looking over their shoulders as for once all methods have failed. There's no video surveillance (I have no idea why) and no witnesses. The skeleton could not have possibly reached out and screwed itself back together. It's a true unknown. And yet it's not a menacing unknown but something gentle and benign. It didn't go on a killing spree seeking revenge for those who have used it carelessly in the past. No, it was content with putting itself in proper order.

I think we need something we can't explain. In these days, at least for me, it helps break up our world. The supernatural, although I know it to be false, holds an allure. It doesn't need an explanation, its mere existence is sufficient and the fact that it is forever beyond any and all attempts to come to a reasonable explanation or verification is appealing to me. Today we're slowly working away at how our bodies work, how our universe works, and more. While all these mechanisms are wonderful in themselves, there's the feeling underneath that is a little disappointed at what we've lost by knowing. Some of that realm of endless possible explanations is lost forever. We can't hold onto our ignorance, for better or for worse.

Years ago, no one quite knew (and they still don't to a degree) what lay hidden underneath the ocean's waters. It was populated with all manner of creatures and environments. Dread and fear stood next to idle puzzlement and awe at what mysteries could be down there. With expeditions into the deepest trenches and the discovery of all the life around the deep sea vents (so unusual and proving the old saying that reality can be forever stranger than we can ever imagine) it killed all that mystery dead. We read novels written ages ago which pondered and explored and utilized this mystery and we chuckle to ourselves with some satisfaction at the inaccuracies and what we know now. I, too, do the same but I also feel a little loss that in such novels I can't partake in that wonder in which the author wrote with his or her general ignorance.

Most of my life I have lived almost always pursuing what was out there and why. I think my strange fixation on the supernatural might be due to my scorn for such things in the past (obviously fairies are not real!) and what I lost of that part of my childhood. I feel sometimes like a kid who desperately wants to believe in Santa even though I knew since forever that he is not real. I so desperately want to believe but I know the truth. I can't.

And so I read into such things with a sense of sadness over what I've lost and what I wish I could have experienced. No matter how hard I try, that brain will whisper to me about how bogus that UFO is or how silly the Loch Ness monster is.

And I enjoy sparking that feeling that I wish I could have in others.

Also, it was a fun prank.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Story of Povl II

As Povl was being reborn under Qeosi's greatest priests, he himself went down to the village of Cississling undisguised. At once the villagers recognized him and came upon him in fear and hatred.

"My dear little village, why are we so violent today? For I have come to bring you good news! Would you not hear it?"

At this the villagers quieted, for as scared and violent as they were, they were frightened of the Ony before them and had heard many tales before.

"My dear little village, today I come to broker a deal with you, once which will be most beneficial to us both! Surely you have heard of and see Famdy lurking about the woods?"

And the villagers nodded, indeed, many of them had seen the Wild One.

"And have many of you not worried in your homes of the danger she may be? Do not deny that you greet her with eyes as frightful as the eyes you greet me with! You may be honest, I will not anger! I, too, would be frightened by myself. But today, I come not in anger or malice, Today I come to make a deal with you who have been so patient as to listen to me!"

"For I will take care of this Fadmy of yours. I will make her as you are, that she may possess no further potential harm to Cississling, no more potential harm than any of you possess towards one another, for it is indeed the poor way of our world to be most grievous towards our fellows than to engage in comradeship. But nonetheless I engage you!"

"But what of her guard? We have noticed peace and prosperity since her appearance, would not such things be lost when she came as one of us?" They inquired.

"Worry not, my friends. For her spirits are an intrinsic property of her being. I can work magic about her to remove her threat but not remove those spirits whose good will you have so long enjoyed, and well deserved, I might add." Qeosi was quick to answer with a great grin.

The village huddled. "We cannot trust him, as the leader of the Ony. On the other, we have no solution ourselves for she does elude us. Perhaps we can argue a deal as he says, but perhaps not." They mulled over themselves as to whether they could trust his word. Qeosi sat far beyond them, grinning brilliantly, relaxing and sitting upon a barrel. His gaze was fixed upon them. "His looks seem to betray a design on us," some noted.

After much deliberation, it was decided that, for whatever his faults, it might be best to take Qeosi on his offer. If Qeosi had been in a superior position, he would not be bartering with them with such silly (yet potentially dangerous) sprites like Fadmy. And what could he possibly ask of them? His deal might not be that harsh.

"Qeosi, you devil, we take you up on your offer. You shall make Fadmy harmless to us. What do you ask of us in return, then?"

"I ask only that you let my people live alongside you as equals in your village. For we have many who cannot live the life we are resigned too and are in need of rest and a place to retire."

"We are idiots! You remove one danger to expose us to ten more! No deal!"

Qeosi had expected this, and at that moment demonstrated to the villagers the Ony who he would have walk among them. And at once children, women, and elderly, the scared and the maimed came from behind him. And the villagers' hearts melted at the sight of them, and they quickly gave in, for who could possibly deny such people quarter?

"Also, I have but one more aspect to add to our little deal..." Qeosi added.

"Would now suggest we surrender our homes as well? Or perhaps our possessions? What more do you ask of us for a singular act of yours?"

"I am sorry, my friends! Please, calm yourselves for it is just a small favor. For when I do work my magic upon Fadmy, you must not call her Fadmy. For to do so would undo the magic I am bounding unto her. So, above all else, do not call her by your pet name for her. Instead, I ask of you to call her 'Povl' for she is, indeed, most curious in more ways than one."

And the villagers agreed among themselves that this was reasonable, in fact, a necessary aspect of the magic of the deal. And so the deal was struck.

"Good dealings, my friends! Now, let me retreat and do my work. Rest assured, it is the very finest, as expected of those who managed to nearly defeat your people many years ago, for we are still mighty!" With this he laughed and disappeared into the woods of Ritch. The villagers felt fear at his words as they did recall the great war of their ancestors.

So it was.