Saturday, April 25, 2009

we're nothing, and nothing will help us

Discovered, on my way to find the new stuph at Deviant Kitties, that there was a new shop on the grounds I hadn't yet noticed, the Hat Mechanic. Man, she has weirdly cool stuph.

Like the Nautilus:


That just looks fascinating. Two complete hats, with a neck collar for support, attachment bands, all for L$500. Presumably, you can wear all three, or just one side, or just the other. It's prim-heavy, but they have a demo--and the demo is amazing.

She also has some really bizarre things, like Virtual Asthma sets, a "hairball" HUD for nekos (the signboard proudly proclaims "Hack up over twenty items!"), and "Vegetables of Mass Destruction":


Whee! These things unpack so neatly from the (small! actually small and fairly unobtrusive!) backpack unit when it's clicked, and splay out, metal-and-vegetable wings. Are they non-lethal? No, and that seems to be the only down side. They shoot particle carrots--really, really fast--and do a significant amount of damage if damage is enabled. But if damage is off, and push is off, would they still work at, oh, say, a Poetry Slam? This, we do not know.

But for L$250, I'm highly tempted to find out.

Lynni Aeon on page 186 (yes, back to the forums) brings up something that's been mentioned--but all too soon buried--in the more than 2700 posts in this thread so far:

How will this affect what is seen in profiles? And yes I know that they can turn off the visibility of groups. I just want to know what such restrictions there would be.

She makes a strong point here, and it's something the Lindens have not, in any way, addressed. What about profiles? Say we get the "perfectly clean grid" (that apparently, someone wants) that people are complaining about. Along comes Miss TopHeavy Jameson (gods help us all if that's actually someone's avatar name). Her bio page on the profile is a detailed list of various positions, acts, and exotic services she is willing to perform. Her groups list reads like the introductory chapter of Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns. Her First Life page is mostly comparable to the seven words you can't say on television. (That link, btw, is sooooo not safe for work--in case you wondered.)

And forget about everything else--make miss TopHeavy behave--put her in a bustle skirt--button-up boots--carefully coiffed hair--and you still have the profile! Which is anything but child-safe.

So what about profiles, and groups, and group titles? Are the Lindens going to go through the list and start banning groups, too?

Grady Vuckovic waxes philosophically:

It's the basic human condition and sadly it has been that way since the dawn of time. We have two choices:

A) Be free to do what we want, and accept others will do things we don't like.
B) Put rules on everything until we can't do what we want, but neither can anyone else

In either case we're not happy.

He's not wrong. Either have a free-for-all zone, where there will be conflicts, or restrict everything to the point where everyone protests; the only middle ground seems to be...embracing tolerance.

Which is more or less what LL is trying to do. They're trying to make a 'Clean' bubble and a 'Smut' bubble and put people in one or the other. No one can live together, so divide them. Which creates separate groups, and which will lead to less understanding of each other and eventually fighting and conflict.

He's right there, too. Is it not better that, when I have questions, I am able to ask them, and not depend solely on the voices and the thoughts of those just like me? Shouldn't I be able to ask, and be able to offer answers to questions given to me, should I hide from those who don't approve of who I am, what I do? Why?

I have Jewish friends, and loves. I've learned a lot about the Jewish faith from asking questions. I am not Jewish, I will never be, but I want to know.

I have Republican friends. I ask them why they protest against Democratic measures, I ask them what their idea of a perfect society is. I am not Republican, I will never be, but again--I want to know.

I want to be able to at least attempt to understand the difference between me and not-me, to put things at their simplest. I realize there may be points where my views, and their views, may fall into conflict. But it's also worthwhile to me, for the most part, to accept that conflict must occur, with divergent views, and work past it.

If there is no conflict, society does not and cannot change. If there is nothing to strive for, or even against, nothing evolves. Separate out us from those around us who do not think like we do, and stagnation will set in, on one or both sides. This is far, far, far from a good thing.

Kyle Steig sees problems ahead as well:

When you can define the difference between erotic art and porn, let me know. That's really the problem right there. RP'd scenes are in the balance on this as are images, sounds, gestures and profiles. Until LL is able to make those of us who choose to be invisible to the likes of Nany and, heaven forfend, her children, this whole deal is a recipe for getting AR'd for simple creative expression of mature themes that will drift on the margins of eroticism and porn and adult humor.

Exactly. What we choose to keep in our homes, what we choose to wear, what we choose to goes so far beyond simple "explicit" versus "tame". Because the lines aren't firm. And they never will be. It's tricky, thorny territory the Lindens are barging into...and seemingly completely unaware as they go.

Juniper Raynier is just terribly confused all around:

i was wondering if i will be forced to move to this new location since i visit alot of adult content locations. i work at club gothika which has dancers that strip for money and play some questionable music but i work there because i enjoy it and they people there. i also own several pieces of sex furniture and will be angry if that is taken away from me. i don't like the idea of having to work with a third party. i also play bloodlines and my avatar i guess can be considered child size because its 5'2" but that is because how tall i am in real life. i guess what im saying is that i would like to keep things the way they are now because i'm content and i just got done all the landscaping i wanted to do outside my home and i would like to keep everything in my house.

I quoted the whole of her post, because I think it does demonstrate something very important to all of this: how many people are wandering into the debate in the late stages, terribly perplexed, and none of what's been made public is helping them in the least. Separate this out with me, if you would:

* She thinks that just going to adult locations is enough to exile her to Pornotopia
* She thinks listening to explicit music might exile her
* She thinks working in a strip club--note, she doesn't say she strips, she may host--will possibly exile her
* She thinks just owning furniture with adult animations might exile her
* She's gotten the idea that, because of this move, Linden Labs will be stripping anything with adult animations off the grid, and thus out of her personal inventory
* She thinks playing Bloodlines will get her exiled
* She thinks she may personally be banned because her avatar is short

That's a lot of issues off one decision. And yes, I am choosing "exiled" with great care, because that's what it feels like for many of us.

Over and over again, we've heard residents asking, if nothing else happens to alter the approaching train wreck, can the Labs at least offer a little pithy "Worried about adult content? Go to this blog" link on the log-in screen. Even that, many of us feel, would let everyone know--who doesn't now read through the forums, read blog entries.

Though word is slowly filtering through the grid...

Ceera Murakami again:

Personally, the fact that the Aristotle check for parcel or sim access gets both false positive results (allowing someone in who has never age verified) and false negative results (prohibiting entry by someone who IS age verified); and the recently fixed glitch that caused new payment info properly entered on the website to fail to show up in-world until you actually spent money with that alt to buy L$; make me very skeptical of LL's ability to implement their proposed limits. And that is without even considering those people who can't or won't provide credit card info or do the Aristotle age check, and those who repeatedly proved that blatantly false information could be used to "verify" the age of an alt.

Yeah. All of that bothers me. Also the reports from those who have thrown in and gone to the verification section, and punched in the last four digits of their Social Security number, only to find the system is glitched beyond all reason. So they're telling people that age verification is the only way to go, without providing working age verification systems!

This whole thing just makes me tired. It's being completely mishandled in every single regard.

Carl Wilder mysteriously dragged religion into this:

I find people who believe in god to be morally reprehensible. Is LL going to create a special continent for religious activity and ban and public display of religion in the rest of SL? If not, why not? Why is this different from the proposals for adult content?

The hell? And Ciaran Laval's retort was no better:

As a god fearing atheist I disagree with you very much, let people believe in god, if I'm backing the wrong horse he or she will forgive me but I don't agree with restricting people's right to believe anymore than I agree with LL's forced relocation.

I have...definitive problems with these two statements. (And yes, I mean definitive, not definite.) First:

mor·al, adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin moralis, from mor-, mos custom
Date: 14th century

1 a: of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical b: expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior c: conforming to a standard of right behavior d: sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment e: capable of right and wrong action 2: probable though not proved : virtual 3: perceptual or psychological rather than tangible or practical in nature or effect

And this:

Function: transitive verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin reprehendere, literally, to hold back, from re- + prehendere to grasp
Date: 14th century

1: to voice disapproval of : censure

So...Carl believes that it is a moral--moral, mind, not ethical--error to believe in God, however one envisions such an entity. But that's not the worst of it--on the heels of that staggering pronouncement, Ciaran wants everyone apparently to believe that he is a God-fearing...atheist.


One more:

Function: noun
Date: 1551

1: one who believes that there is no deity


So, Ciaran wants us to believe that he fears...a God...that he does not believe in.

My brain hurts.

And word came down a few posts beyond this that
Zee Linden is leaving. So there's another Linden falling from the tree.

Quixotic Hermit weighs in:

What we need are separate grids. For those of you who must play with pixel penises, I suggest you [band] together and work hard to make OS grids comparable to SL. Something has got to change. SL cannot be the only virtual world in town. People need to lose their attachment to this place and learn to create their own virtual world communities. SL cannot be everything to everyone.

I very nearly admire the intolerance and brash attitude of this, I really do. The whole "Get out of OUR grid!" groupthink of the opposition. This goes far beyond wanting a place where people don't need to confront extreme sexual or extremely violent content. This is straight, out-and-out aggression. "You're not wanted here, get lost."

Save...we're the majority, I do believe, not the minority. What does that say about Quixotic's comment?

Dale Innis responds:

So... as Second Life becomes less and less infantile, it inevitably will more and more restrict itself to things suitable for infants? That's odd...

He's not wrong.

Uriel Wheeler considers the sociological angle:

As a sociologist, I'm worried about putting all sexuality in a "special" place. Throwing it off to the side simply stigmatizes sex even further, and that's not a good thing. (It's arguable that our repression of sexuality is what makes the extreme kinks so appealing.) There is the question of who decides what is and isn't extreme - and if the official and unofficial rules differ, that's A Very Bad Thing.

Again, not wrong. Embracing who we are as a world culture doesn't mean everyone suddenly has to find eels wrapped in leather or women covered in motor oil attractive--it simply means we accept, all of us, that adults have sexual sides, that some are going to want more extreme experiences, and that it's a wide world with many different people in't--so there's room for tolerance, and understanding.

Please give better controls to people who only want certain types of content on their land. Please figure out how to keep PG welcome areas PG, and free of insane griefing, weaponry, and sexual propositions. But don't sacrifice the rest of us in the rush to appease a few. That's not the way to go about things. That is, in fact, the way nearly guaranteed to lose users, sim owners, and income.

I'm going to close with another point-counterpoint from Nany Kayo and someone sane--in this case, Grady Vuckovic:

Wow Nany is getting annoying. I don't think I can ever remember meeting someone so closed minded before. It's like 2009 vs 1959 in here. x_X

Originally Posted by Nany Kayo
We need access to as broad an international venue as possible. We are here to meet the whole world.

If this is nothing but a porn site, it is useless. We don't want to meet people in a brothel.

Simple solution, don't go to the brothels! Who the hell is making you search for a brothel and then making you teleport there and talk to people?? Those establishments are there functioning all by themselves and not bothering anyone, and no one is making you visit them!

I agree, but let me take this to a larger playing field, though:

The Complete Guide to Amsterdam Brothels is a clean, easy-to-read website devoted to pricing per prostitute, and what services each house offers. The side bar is full of other guides--for coffee shops, lodging, transportation, and sights to see around Amsterdam. The Google text ads above the guide were all about travel and daycare options for me.

There is no nudity on this page, though there is on some of the actual individual brothel's websites (and it's mostly tasteful nudity, even).

Contrast that with this quote from the Amsterdam Business Profile page:

Major companies with a presence in Amsterdam include ABM Amro Bank, Phillips and Shell, with IBM, Sony and Canon all having their European headquarters in the city. It is fitting in a city that was home to the world's first ever public stock exchange that finance is a major part of the business world, with the financial sector employing approximately 8% of Amsterdam's workforce and some 70 banks having a presence in the city. After finance, fashion and flowers are key sectors. Of all Amsterdam's exports, tulips are probably the most famous. In terms of exports, fresh flowers are a large market and Heineken is the largest export brewery in the world, with sales to 150 countries. Over the last 20 years, Amsterdam has also emerged as a strong base in advanced technological industries, computing, telecommunications and biotechnology.

IBM, Sony and Canon all maintain an Amsterdam address as their European headquarters office. But of course, Nany is right--she did say earlier "If Linden Lab yields to the sex industry, this is a pornography website, and business, nonprofit and education have no place here."

Because of course, IBM, Sony, Shell, and the over seventy different bank branches that make their home in Amsterdam would never deal with a city that had legal brothels! No, no no. Of course not.

Why, the very idea is ludicrous.

*coughs* Sorry, bit of sarcasm got stuck in my throat, there.

But that's just an example, one example, from RL. This is SL! This is a virtual world. This is a world that is primed to run on the concept of If you don't like it, don't do it. Why is this so difficult a concept for the Nany's of the world to grasp?

1959, indeed.

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