Friday, June 19, 2009

and the moon gives me permission and I enter through her eyes

Carrying over a bit from yesterday...I don't talk a lot about non-virtual life here (and I'm not planning on starting!), but this was a good divergence point, I think.

Note: I didn't cover cane sugar, or beet sugar; though they are different, they're sold interchangeably, and they both spike blood sugar in equivalent ways. For everything else...this is a pretty good alternative sweetener roundup, with conversion tables; make your own decisions from there.

A special note on stevia. You can spend hours reading through the stevia website, and at this point, it comes in green powdered herb form, white powder form, dark liquid, clear liquid, and flavored liquid forms. In the US, it is sold as a nutritional supplement, not a food additive, because the FDA caves far too readily to evil and short-sighted corporations. This page lists the conversion rates per form of stevia, and it doesn't take a lot to sweeten most dishes.

Stevia is absorbed well by most systems, can be mixed in drinks, can be used in baking, can be used in micro-amounts to sweeten where's the down side? Yeah, there is one. Because stevia is actually so very intensely bitter, the tongue reads it as sweet, and 90% of the population can use it interchangeably with actual sweeteners. The remaining 10% of the population has tastebuds sensitive enough to detect the actual bitterness, and this is fixed; if you're one of the ninety percent, you're golden; if you're not, it won't ever taste sweet for you.

But it's like glucosamine--I spoke with an orthopedist once who recommended it to his patients. When I asked why, he said that most doctors make a big deal about the fact that it only works on half the people. He said that was short-sighted; that meant it did work, and work well, on the other half. "And it's a funny thing," he said. "If it works for you, it never stops working. So I always tell my patients to try it."

Same thing here. If stevia works for you, it works for you, flat out. If it doesn't, move on to something else. All you're risking is a bit of bitterness and who knows; you might be part of that ninety percent!

Now then, on to other things. I've been idly following various posts on the adult continent, now that it's open; but this one, I admit, disturbed me somewhat.

I want to start out by saying there's a common perception out on the grid about Prokovy Neva. Like or dislike, Neva is frequently viewed as the bench mark of lunacy; when you talk about avatars that are out there, Neva's frequently viewed as far out beyond them.

So agreeing with Neva is, to a large extent, viewed as a benchmark of one's own sanity: to wit, if one agrees with Neva, one is then insane...or at least, not altogether together.

That having been said, I am uncomfortably on board with some of Neva's points in that entry, and the one before it, as much as I have points of disagreement. It bothers me.

But I want to break it down further than that, and explain why. I realize it's me-versus-the-community, here; I know I don't hang out in the kidzones, partially because I don't want to, and partially because I find I dislike children en masse even as another child, as much as I disliked other children when I was a child in RL. But I've learned over the course of a life, in or out of the virtual: if I think it, someone else does, too. No human is completely alone in how they reason; how they feel; what they find amusing, or sad, or angering. None of us.

So I had to respond.

"1. Child avatars are creepy in Second Life because they are a marker for those using them for unlawful and immoral 'ageplay'."

Not everyone. I have a child avatar. These days, she's never seen. If I wear her, she never leaves the house, because I am not at my most social when in her skin, as well as the aforementioned children thing--most SL kids bug me beyond all reason. I wear her to sit and think; I wear her to curl up and watch the world from my windows; I wear her to build things that are very small and very intricate. In general I don't interact with other children or adults; in fact, in all the time I've had her, only three adults have ever seen her, I trusted each one implicitly, in all worlds, and nothing sexual, sensual, or even vaguely flirtatious happened.

"2. Child avatars are creepy because even if they aren't a marker for actual child pornography distributors, or actual 'ageplay' practitioners of the simulated kind, a broader category, they are a marker for a cynical, nihilist, and extremist sort of artist or geek or anonymous and insolent Internet troll who like to shock, annoy, make uncomfortable, trip up liberals by hijacking their own values, etc. anything to get a reaction."

Again, I have to say no, at least in my case. I am not an advocate for child porn. I am not an advocate for any form of ageplay--hells, any form of play period--which is not based on understanding and consent.

I am also not a troll, I am not excessively interested in shock value for the sake of it, getting reactions from fellow avatars just for the reaction...none of these things are true for me, nor for me in child skin.

"3. Finally, child avatars are creepy because even if the creepy child avatar in question doesn't fit into one of these two categories -- 1) not a RL pedophile or unlawful 'ageplayer,' and 2) not an extremist edgecaser and nihilist cynic barking endlessly on the forums -- they are objectively carrying water particularly for the latter category by insisting that they must be granted the right to go everywhere, even in M and AO, not be sequestered to PG, because 'in real life' children are everywhere, and therefore we must be very literalist about the Linden -- an EU legal stipulation -- that child avatars are ok -- unless you use them to engage in sexualized behavior."

And once more, I say no, because I am in no wise an RL pedophile, nor an unlawful 'ageplayer', nor a voice very often heard on the forums. And when I am in child form, if I am on Mature land, it is land I own. I am not traveling to sex areas, dungeons, dark roleplay sims, simply because my child form is not interested. In fact, when initially deciding on a child skin, I spent two weeks going over the options, and I got one that comes in two forms only--either smoothly and sexually neuter, with no upper or lower sexual definition, or a skin with drawn underwear layers baked to the skin. My child avatar cannot have sex, she doesn't have the equipment for it, by design.

How'ver, this was where I first stumbled, because...while I do not fit category one, or category two, nor do I fit category three...I would never dream of taking my child avatar out to the adult continent. Never. And why am I so insistent on this point? Because of human perceptions.

Our perceptions are tricky and indistinct, our morality even more vague on frequent occasion; but if one formally plays a child most of the time, why would one ever even seek access to Zindra? Moreover, if for some reason (that of maintaining a business, for example, and having an adult avatar to do so) that SL child did have a need to get verified, why would that child ever transport to Zindra--as a child?!?

And here we start running into the most visible, and singularly obvious, flaw in the Linden plan for the adult continent.

Now, I'm not this much of a jerk, but let's just say for argument's sake...I have three avatars: one furry, one child, and one human. I have three landmarks: one to Furtopia, one to Sinland, one to Kidvale.

Now, I could just restrict--per the rules of these invented places--my appearance to only that which they want. Or, I could show up as a human in Furtopia. I could show up as a kid in Sinland. I could show up as an adult in Kidvale.

Restricting just my account to adult, or non-adult, okay, fine. But if there are no tools to restrict what can be rezzed out, or worn, in certain places, the experiment is useless.

"Why would no. 3 be creepy, when it is all innocence and light and lollypops and tricycles? The answer is: because they all lost crediblity when Marianne McCann (shudder at the use of that RL abducted child's name again) went to the adult continent and appeared dancing next to a giant penis."

Still haven't found pictures of this. Did find open admission that Marianne McCann went to the adult continent (along with a lot of other SL kids). And I admit, this bothers me. I know, I've heard the defenses from both sides, that as long as there's nothing outwardly sexual in what's going on, the kids can be there.

This may well be first life carryover, but I know when I'm sitting on a couch with someone, even just idly flirting and kissing, nothing else, clothes still on--I stop if a kid comes in. Not because I think what I'm doing is inherently shameful, or per se inappropriate--but because children change the vibe. I can sit and talk to most children, individually, and have a fine time--I can sit and flirt and kiss with some adults and be happy--in general I don't combine the two, I'm just not wired for that.

And maybe that's another agreement point with Neva, because--frankly, if I'm on the adult continent, there's only a handful of reasons I'm going to be there, very very few of which are "for the scenery". So if I'm there, I have a purpose, it's an adult purpose, and children aren't part of anything I'm looking to find.

"Marianne used poor judgement in appearing on the adult continent, and set back the cause for her entire group of child avatar users who didn't wish to be associated with 'ageplay'."

I should point out, I'm quoting everything directly from the entry, no spelling corrections, no attempt to make anything sound better, or more or less disturbing than it is.

But yeah, I'm finding myself thinking this--exploring the grid as a child? Fine. Photographing one's adventures? Sure. I do this as a fae, as a neko, as a mer, as a fur--whatever, it works.

Going to the adult continent as a child? Why? Just...why?

"Except...I really don't think such a space exists, because I think people using child avatars tend more than others to be coming from a dysfunctional place [...]"

And here we are back at no after tentatively agreeing, again. Save for one thing: do I believe that there is anyone on the grid, anyone at all, even one person, who roleplays a child on SL, an arguably known eighteen-and-older game....who does it purely and innocently for the lark of it? A single person who just plays a child because, and has no issues whatsoever?

No. And there's another cringing point when I think about it, because if you know you have issues, and you are using a given look to process them, that's one thing. If you are climbing into a kid's skin and you don't know why? Maybe you should think on why you're doing it.

The rest of the post, unfortunately, descends into more psychotic spaces, and I refuse to air more than I absolutely need to, here. But it bothers me. It bothers me a lot. I know why some SL children are children. I know why some of us need that ability to go back, to safe places, and layer good experiences over deeply tragic ones, just to regain some perspective. Tinies don't necessarily do this. Dolls don't necessarily do this, and there's more than a touch of fetishizing in that community (not that I mind; though I have never, ever played an underage doll).

But child skins...they do. Without words, without effort, at times, they drop us back in that space of looking at the world from a new perspective. They bring us that open learning ability once more. We can learn, we can play, we can grow, we can change, and ways that we might not think to change, as children, are ways that we may say are impossible as adults.

So...yeah. I really twitch agreeing in any way with Neva, but...yeah. I think Marianne, and all the other SL children who rushed to Zindra when it opened, have once again insolubly linked sex with children on SL.

And that's just wrong. Wrong start to finish.

And gives me even more ammunition against ever appearing, even alone, as my child form again. Which is the real tragedy, when you think about it--that because of these wrongful perceptions, people in my position, who may lack my insight, will feel they can't be seen as the children they may need, every once in a while, to be.

It's not a good thing. Unfortunately, in this regard, it's not a game. We don't get a 'do-over' with Zindra. What the SL kids did who showed up can't be changed, now, it's over, the damage is already done.

It just remains to be seen how far the damage will ripple out this time.


Alexandra Rucker said...

Because stevia is actually so very intensely bitter, the tongue reads it as sweet, and 90% of the population can use it interchangeably with actual sweeteners. The remaining 10% of the population has tastebuds sensitive enough to detect the actual bitterness...

Well, hell. You've just explained the aftertaste I get.

Emilly Orr said...

Maybe. If it's a very "green" taste, or a bitter flair at the very end, it mostly won't interfere. If it tastes bitter to start with, or tastes briefly sweet then very bitter....yeah, welcome to the 10%.

Alexandra Rucker said...

It's very reminiscent to me of tea - and a lot of bagged teas tend to be on the bitter-er side than the looseleaf varities. (That it reminds me of tea isn't a big surprise, since it's a leaf to begin with.) At the time I first tried it, I hadn't discovered looseleaf teas yet, so... yea. Vague sweet + bitter.


Emilly Orr said...

And if the bitter's stronger, then yeah, you can't use it. You might want to try some of SweetLeaf's clear liquid varieties, though--they even come in flavors. See if they can send you a sample, or something.