Thursday, July 2, 2009

where the raindrops as they're falling tell a story

"Yes, I have cunningly undertaken this whole project in such a way as to make it absolutely impossible for me to make any money out of it. I am quite the commercial genius, thank you."

*snerks* But the entire project is worth reading over.

Ari Blackthorne makes a telling comment late in the strand at the Linden blog on bots and camping. He was responding to yet another plaintive cry of merchant business loss:

With cordial respect I will say to you and all others who make similar claims are *misguided*.

+You "invested" nothing.+
What you did do is "pay to play"

You paid for +entertainment+. You did not make an investment. Investing would mean you hold a stake in Linden Lab itself, not a virtual parcel in a digital environment. It is not "real estate".

Please understand, I mean this in the most respectful way to you and all others who repeat your proclamation in some form or another and have no intention of being inflammatory or abrasive in my comments. You are correct, it is not your fault. However, your misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what you were doing is at the root of your dismay: +you were paying for entertainment.+ For "hosting". For a privilege, not a right. You got everything you paid for and nothing less.

I have done all this, too. Since my first coming into SL I have owned... (counts fingers and contemplates) ... 5 private regions (sims) - not all at once of course. But I have owned them. I have done what you are doing now - the land sales/rentals. I have created a role play sim (still going strong fortunately) and so on and so on.

However, I clearly understand +my "place"+ in it. That being that I am paying Linden Lab to give me specific and complete control of part of their system. That's it. Nothing more. I do not now nor ever expect a "return" on my "investment" because not only is it not promised, Linden Lab doesn't even so much as +*imply* such a thing is possible+. In other words, what I do and how I do it using the tools and services available I do on my own at my own behest and risk, knowing full well anything can change for the better or worse at the drop of a hat.

So, again with respect, I take the words of anyone who proclaims they have spent money and are thus "losing" money with a serious grain of salt and tongue-in-cheek. Second Life is not billed as any kind of money-making enterprise or investment venue. If you spend money on a movie ticket at the cinema, do you realistically expect to get any kind of return on that money, save for the screening itself?

In my mind, anyone who complains that they spent money and are not getting what they have paid for need a serious realignment of what Second Life really is: a virtual world for +entertainment purposes+. Anything and everything above and beyond that is simply a "fluke" of the system that you and I and all others are +exploiting+.

He's not wrong.

Another Poetry Slam comes 'round again, this one dealing with freedom, and Empire.

[17:33] Gwynna Cleanslate: Let me explain that the theme of the holiday reminds me too much of summer .. my summers.
[17:34] Gwynna Cleanslate: And this is a [poem] that speaks to my own [independence] of a sort ...

And she began to read.

Elsinboro: The Delaware, 1967

Uncle Earl rolled in the crab traps at ebb tide
Hauling on ropes yellow and green, dripping seawed and tiny mussels
His muscles tattooed:
a Navy anchor and a heart, left and right
Sleep-eyed, shot red with the magic potion from his secret flask in the shed,
He thrust his scarred hand into the cage,
Grinned, and grabbed the largest of the blue-and-white monsters
Waved it in our face and laughed as we shrieked,
Running in the tide pools that stretchd a half-mile to thesand bar.
"Dinner's coming,"he shouted after us. "Dinner's coming togetcha!"

I stood on the sand bar,
Great-aunt Elsie's apron filled with clamshells and green glass,
Gazing at twinkling lights, red and green, across brown water,
Brackish and rainbowed with engine oil from outboards.
Barges, tankers, tugboats, scows, and once a luxury liner
Carrying the world along the horizon,
Carrying my dreams adrift.
Waves washed over the sandbar,
And from there a race against tide along the rippled mud
Inches ahead of the lapping water coming to get me,
Climbing the bulwark just in time
"Not It," I told the river,
And laughed when my sister and Cousin Bob got caught.

I sat beside the creosote patch on the bulwark,
My oversized feet kicking against the licking waters of high tide,
Dangling a drumstick on a string, waiting for the tug.
I brought up seven crabs at once.
Billy and David boasted only five.
But they got me, all right,
Telling ghost stories until bedtime:
Jersey Devil, Woodstown's gravestones, the Ghost of Salem's Oak, and the Pirate's Lady
Wafted in the incense of cattails and toasted marshmallows.
Caught, I believed them, every one,
Shivering in terror of what would come
As I gazed out the dormer window,
The only one awake among a dozen brackish cousins around me
Asleep on the padded attic floor,
The only one alive to see
The red and green lights across black water,
And the Pirate's Lady coming to get me--
"Come. Drift. Drown."
And I did.


(der Hut des Jaegers being filled with temporary libraries. Also, the author of that poem? Miss Cleanslate.)

[17:59] Birdsan Weezles: Hy took a different look at de theme, too -- Vhen hyu've been a soldier for a few centuriez, freedom und independenze zumtimez schtartz to look like a long line of battlez und change. Rudyard Kipling zaid it vell in vot iz called "Puck'z Song".
[18:00] Annechen Lowey: ah.

(I am altering it slightly from the Jaeger; all apologies, this is not meant as a slight.)

See you the ferny ride that steals
Into the oak-woods far?
O that was whence they hewed the keels
That rolled to Trafalgar.

And mark you where the ivy clings
To Bayham's mouldering walls?
O there we cast the stout railings
That stand around St. Paul's.

See you the dimpled track that runs
All hollow through the wheat?
O that was where they hauled the guns
That smote King Philip's fleet.

(Out of the Weald, the secret Weald,
Men sent in ancient years,
The horse-shoes red at Flodden Field,
The arrows at Poitiers!)

See you our little mill that clacks,
So busy by the brook?
She has ground her corn and paid her
Ever since Domesday Book.

See you our stilly woods of oak,
And the dread ditch beside?
O that was where the Saxons broke
On the day that Harold died.

See you the windy levels spread
About the gates of Rye?
O that was where the Northmen fled,
When Alfred's ships came by.

See you our pastures wide and lone,
Where the red oxen browse?
O there was a City thronged and known,
Ere London boasted a house.

And see you after rain, the trace
Of mound and ditch and wall?
O that was a Legion's camping-place,
When Caesar sailed from Gaul.

And see you marks that show and fade,
Like shadows on the Downs?
O they are the lines the Flint Men made,
To guard their wondrous towns.

Trackway and Camp and City lost,
Salt Marsh where now is corn--
Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,
And so was England born!

She is not any common Earth,
Water or wood or air,
But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye,
Where you and I will fare!


(Miss Gwynna Cleanslate and Sgt. Birdsan Weezles being pelted with books.)

[18:07] Emilly Orr stands, in the gap between Kipling and haiku.
[18:07] Emilly Orr: I have a short one...
[18:07] Sheryl Skytower: *chuckles*
[18:07] Birdsan Weezles: Hooo!
[18:07] Birdsan Weezles: Eazt meetz Vezt,.
[18:07] Annechen Lowey: Very good!

I read "Childrens' Rhymes", by Langston Hughes.

By what sends
the white kids
I ain't sent:
I know I can't
be President.
What don't bug
them white kids
sure bugs me:
We know everybody
ain't free.

Lies written down
for white folks
ain't for us a-tall:
Liberty And Justice--
Huh!--For All?


(Your humble narrator being thrown against Miss Nacht and Miss Slade by books, chickens and feral haggis.)

[18:12] Emilin Nakamori: Actually, I now have 2 haiku; a rather bitter one occurred to me, and I wrote it earlier in the conversing.
[18:12] Emilin Nakamori: Would you like both, or shall I leave the bitter one out?
[18:12] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: Hmm.
[18:12] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: Nein, let us have the contrast.
[18:12] Birdsan Weezles: De courze of freedom iz zumtimez better.

She read her haiku, as she's been accustomed to doing of a Thursday in Winterfell.

Picnics and parades
All serve to help us forget
Governmental rape.

Miss Nakamori has been our poet-in-residence for some time. She has a flair for haiku.


(Aim and fire.)

A warm summer night,
Flowers of fire overhead,
The sounds of insects...

[18:15] Emilin Nakamori: The Japanese word for fireworks is "hanabi", which can be translated as "fire flowers".

Interesting, I didn't know. And it does make the poem very meaningful.

[18:15] Elegia Underwood smiles.
[18:15] Elegia Underwood: A lovely contrast.

We paused for appreciation, and to clean up feathers, wandering mimmoths, and bits of pastry, and went on with the evening.

[18:17] Emilly Orr: But do say on, Miss Nacht.
[18:18] Stereo Nacht: Thank you. So here comes:

From the heights of power
I am the mistress of them all
I free them from their condition
There is no depths they can't dive on
No heights too high they risk a fall

From humble peasants they were born
They do not have to die the same
And this is where I draw my fame:
Whatever I dream they become

A set of wings to reach the skies
Scales and gills for deep abysses
Great muscles: no feats end misses
With fur: winter never bring cries

Yet on my balcony I stand
Surrounded by those I have freed
To their request they ask I cede
"Freedom of choice": futile demand!

For I am mistress of them all
And never to my knees will fall!


(Miss Nacht is buried in books.)

About this time a wanderer joined us, one miss Fanshaw Auster. Interesting last name, and first name, though I didn't thank her for not spelling it "Featherstone-Haugh". That might have been an excess of fannish reference. She was...understandably confused:

[18:21] Tyrian Slade applauds
[18:21] Tyrian Slade: I liked that.
[18:21] Fanshaw Auster: what's that?
[18:21] Stereo Nacht: Thank you miss Slade!
[18:21] Fanshaw Auster: that?
[18:21] Annechen Lowey: `*.¸.*´ APPLAUSE `*.¸.*´APPLAUSE `*.¸.*´
[18:21] Emilin Nakamori applauds :)
[18:21] Emilly Orr applauds!
[18:21] Birdsan Weezles: Local tredition, Fanshaw.
[18:22] Fanshaw Auster: ok, were those some sort of books?
[18:22] Emilly Orr: A fleet of fast-flying fulminations on child-rearing, I do believe.
[18:22] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: Appreciation is shown with ammunition.
[18:22] Fanshaw Auster: i see
[18:22] Birdsan Weezles: Of all zortz.
[18:22] Emilly Orr: It's not mandatory, but it is fun.
[18:22] Fanshaw Auster: so you all come here often?
[18:22] Birdsan Weezles: Veekly.
[18:22] Fanshaw Auster: yeah it is
[18:22] Emilly Orr: Every Thursday evening we can.
[18:23] Fanshaw Auster: ok
[18:23] Elegia Underwood: Jaegers, Miss Fanshaw, all these brilliantly coloured & rather savage looking folk, tend to celebrate explosively.folk
[18:23] Elegia Underwood: [without the following 'folk' which has to be a linden artifact since I'm sure I did not type the word again. :D ]

So we may well see Miss Auster of a Thursday, now and again, with poems of her own. Always good to bring in converts to the cause.

[18:24] Sheryl Skytower: *puts up paw*
[18:24] Sheryl Skytower: May I offer a haiku, fresh from my claws?
[18:24] Annechen Lowey: Ah, Miss Skytower!
[18:24] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: Splendid.
[18:24] Annechen Lowey: Yes, please!
[18:24] Stereo Nacht: Of course!
[18:24] Sheryl Skytower: *clears voice*
[18:24] Birdsan Weezles: Pleaze do!

I admit, I'm always momentarily breathless when someone says, they've just then written something. Just sitting in the bar and suddenly--poof!--creation! I think out of everything else, that's the thing I most adore about Thursday nights in Absinthe.

Tea leaves floating free
Caught in the rushing current
Bitter but so strong...

We applauded and launched more fanciful and fragmentary ammunition. Then Miss Nakamori spoke again:

[18:24] Emilin Nakamori: I have another bitter one. I'm sorry; I seem to be in that sort of mood tonight :(

Haiku are short.
Sounds, like punctuation,
Giving meaning to tumult.

While we were reflecting on the hidden depth of emotion that presented, Miss Auster had more questions:

[18:26] Fanshaw Auster: so is this some sort of [german] area?
[18:27] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: Nein, several of us are Transylvanian.
[18:27] Annechen Lowey: this is Port Absinthe, a dark Victorian sim.

We expanded, a bit, on backgrounds, in between talk of hats.

[18:27] Annechen Lowey: Most of us hail from Europa, through the dimentional portal.
[18:27] Emilin Nakamori: I am of indeterminate origins, but all agree I am Mad.
[18:27] Fanshaw Auster: ok
[18:27] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: A few of the damen are from Caledon.
[18:27] Tyrian Slade: I'm from Caledon. Kind of.

[18:27] Emilly Orr: Caledon and parts elsewhere.

[18:28] Elegia Underwood: I am from Steelhead.
[18:28] Emilly Orr: We represent a great many ports of call.

[18:28] Annechen Lowey: Fairly international.

[18:28] Sheryl Skytower: actually, you can see the flags overhead... *points up*

Talk settled then, time was growing short--after all, there was a country to save, in the clutches of mad Dr. Obolensky--so quick poems were sought.

[18:30] Birdsan Weezles: Az Hy zaid, Hy got vun -- or rather, de Anima vantz to declaim vun.

[18:30] Emilin Nakamori: I have the remaining bitter haiku, and Kipling's "My Rival", if you want it ;)

Miss Nakamori was given the floor.

The green lady stands,
Symbol of dreams betrayed by
Small men of power.

Deep, and resonant, and Miss Underwood spoke in the moment of silence.

[18:34] Elegia Underwood: This one is by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, sadly more famous for being the owner of City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco than for his marvelous poetry. But in his day, he was one of the poets of protest, the Beat Poets.

He was, as some say, the father of Beat Poetry, though this is contested. At any rate, his is poetry worthy of respect, and it had been years and years since I'd heard this one. I listened avidly.

I Am Waiting

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting
for someone to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep through the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped’ onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to ‘be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for the American Boy
to take off Beauty’s clothes
and get on top of her
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am waiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder


(Miss Underwood looking confident that the onslaught of incoming tomes would not budge her. She was right.)

It wasn't short, but time had been extended by a bit, getting things ready, so Sgt. Weezles took on another work:

[18:50] Birdsan Weezles: Nathaniel Benson, and it's called "Canada".

I have seen her in the quiet of the evening in the fields,
I have sensed her in the dusk-time that the star-decked prairie yields.
She has poised on purple mountains when my lonely step drew near,
And the North's green fires at midnight were her altar-lights austere.

Her voice is in the thunder of the raptured Falls of Bow,
In the memory of Daulac dying greatly long ago.
Her song is in the music of awakened April rills,
She whose spirit walked with Lampman on his silent wooded hills.

In the ancient lonely churchyards of the pioneers asleep.
She broods in voiceless twilight where eternal memories creep.
Where the dark heroic headlands stand the wintry ocean's roar,
She sits thinking of the seamen who will come to port no more.

On the red earth of the vinelands, through the orchards in the spring
She walks and feels in heart and hand her beauty's blossoming, --
And again she wanders weeping beneath an alien sky
Where her many sons are sleeping and her young lost legions lie.

She is one with all our laughter, with our wonder and our pain.
Living everywhere truimphant, in the heart and soul and brain,
She our mother, we who bore her, she the daughter yet to be
Who walks these mortal roads of death to immortality.

Indivisible and lovely, she the maiden of our thought,
Is an empress robed in beauty from our deepest dreaming wrought,
She whose centuries are storied, whose young banners far outborne
Are the heralds of a splendour in the ages yet unborn.


(Sgt. Weezles pushing aside books and mimmoths.)

[18:54] Tyrian Slade: Oh, what the heck. If no one else wants to go, I have a short one.
[18:54] KlausWulfenbach Outlander: Go.

I want to see the universe someday.
Shining blue and white
Shimmering like black velvet
Adorned with pearls
Perhaps I’ll touch the galaxies
Fragile in the aether
Trembling like spiderwebs
Laden with dew
And then I’ll know the smell of stars
Those flowers made of light
lossoming for almost ever
Changing their colors
I want to see the universe someday
In all its glory-splendor
For all its mystery and wonder
Beacons to me


(The tide of books ebbing around Miss Slade. This, and her other, I believe, were also originals.)

Then, the crowd parted, most for diverse locations around Babbage, to cheer on the return of the Clockwinder; me, to home and off the grid. I faded into limbo with sweet remembered poetry ringing in my ears, and if there is a better way to fade from the dream than that, I do not know it.

(The Poetry Slams are held each week, on Thursdays from five to seven pm, SLT. Please make sure all your armament is set to no-push, and ammunition fired is temp-rez. Armament is not required; neither is reading. You can come unarmed and just listen.

(Just come. Some weeks somber, some weeks amusing, there's not another poetry night like it on the grid.)


Dale Innis said...

I must make one of these Slams! But I am hopeless at remembering (and arranging) to be in certain places in SL at certain times.

I think Ari is somewhat wrong, with all due respect. The Lab has, since the big press exposure that Anshe Chung got if not before, been hinting very very strongly that it's possible to make money in SL, and to get all sorts of other non-entertainment (educational, vocational, therapeutic) rewards from time and money put into SL, and lots of other people have been saying the same thing. In fact some people *have* derived non-entertainment value from money put into SL.

So saying that it's not an investment, it's just paying for entertainment, as though it were some kind of objective fact, is I think simply wrong. It may be that Ari thinks of it that way, and that he recommends it as a way of thinking (I'd agree with that recommendation), but it's going to far to say that that's what it *is*, and that people who think of it as an investment are just *wrong*.

It ain't that simple.

Emilly Orr said...

Nothing ever is. I know merchants who make RL rent and pay bills with what they sell in SL; I know players who still routinely drop 500, 1K, 2K into tip jars just to say thanks for something.

And I do realize he is dogmatic enough to make it sound like that's all the Labs are, is solely entertainment value; there is nothing else.

How'ver, especially on that thread, he does make his point with clarity: no one promised them they would make money in SL. Oh, the Labs can hint all they want, and they can even step forward in world and come right to that line of "you can make things and get rich"--but in print, in their ToS and their community standards list, we hear a different refrain:

We can change the rules at any time.
We can raise prices or lower them at our whim.
We give you no guarantee of performance, uninterrupted service, or profit.
We can remove your account any time we see fit.

And you agree to those terms, those very plain terms, every time you play SL.

Is it impossible to make money on SL? Not at all. Will everyone? Of course not, but some have the chance to do so. Do the Lindens owe the people who suffer when the rules change, though? Not at all.

Just ask any casino owner.

As far as the Slam, the only way I remember to go is to leave myself reminder notes on Google Calendar. But that doesn't so much help when you're not running a browser in the background. :)