Saturday, January 31, 2009

a fortune in feelings, but some day you'll pay

Miss Kirstenlee Cinquetti is getting lauds for her S16 viewer over on New World Notes. Here's the problem: her blog is missing. Which means all the rave reviews of "SL's best viewer"? Don't mean a thing, at this point.

Thanks to a friend who captured it before it went away, I'll be playing with it over the next week or so, but still...if it doesn't come back, it's pretty pointless.

Pursuant to this entry, I've had a lot of interest and comment behind the scenes. And I feel--now having been provided with a transcript of the event as it occurred--I must retract earlier statements.

I quote:

"To wit, the recent banning from Steelhead of a woman who described sexual acts in graphic detail on the public chat, and then demanded residents lick her feet."

Again, without using names--though the guilty party, and those who observed her actions, will clearly know to whom I refer--the woman in question did not, actually, describe sexual acts in public chat. While this had been what was described from sources, according to the transcript I've now been given, this is not what happened.

What happened, in my opinion, is far more tacky, and quite possibly worse. Follow:

1. For some reason known only to the gods, this particular individual tries to entice several people to smell her feet. Fetish? Playful behavior of some kind? We do not know. But this proceeded towards:

2. Offers by at least one person to coat her foot in other (food-based, not what you might be thinking!) substances; her acceptance of such, and the first hints of a reaction from members of the chat (nausea and confusion, mainly).

3. Offers to a married man to lick her feet; refusal by said married man; married man's spouse telling her to back off; her ignoring said offer completely.

That last bit, to me, is the most important thing that happened. Whether you weigh in on the side of chat confusion (the wife's retort was lost in cross-chatter, this individual missed it by sheer mischance, not deliberate malice) or not, to me, at least, certain things are sacrosanct. And the rules are simple and inviolable.

If one wishes to play with someone, and they are partnered with someone else, and that person objects--game over. This goes for everything from close personal intimacies all the way up to flirting: if the spouse is present, one must, must take one's cues from that spouse, as much as from the object of interest. And when the spouse steps up and says all right, that's enough, back off--and one does not listen--well, then, you get what you get and you've earned it.

I do realize there is a perceived disconnect where the world is concerned. Because we are not creatures purely of the grid, we make alliances in and out of world. In world, if our partners also play, they may play as wife or husband to us, as close friend, as brother in at least one case I know, as cousin in one other case--the possibilities are endless, and on occasion, endlessly disturbing.

The one thing, however, that I do know is--if someone is partnered in world, that partner has some say over their partner's actions. And that is doubly true if the partner in world is also the partner out of it.

Play with those ties at your peril, always; as the woman under discussion found out.

Are you feeling tired? Run down? Strogg LeStrogg can help...sort of.

And if you can ignore the spelling errors, and the bafflingly long "Leeroy Jenkins" segment...the rest of it is hysterical. Fully one hundred ways to die--many of them surreal and insane--using Garry's Mod.

Finally, How Not to Be Seen--Halo style.

I want you to confess the way you feel when you see them fall

He said he wished he'd never met her. I remember. I can't not--there's someone, out there, on the wide grid, who wished he'd never met me. Whose fondest dream would be realized if, one day, I just--disappeared. A hint of sugared ozone, a puff of glitter on the autumn wind--the carnival picking up and traveling on, moving into winter.

Time for more sideshows next summer, with new faces, new games, new rides to exalt and terrify.

But not the fair that left. Not the carnival that moved on. That--save for trampled grass, crumpled litter, twist of oiled paper and trailing ribbon--that carnival is gone forever. And the longer the field recovers, the more the mind will reach the point where they cannot see where feet trod, they cannot pick out at a glance where the Ferris wheel stood, where the bumper cars were, where the haunted house loomed, all painted wood and turning
spirals.

This is the value--and the danger--of nostalgia. If memory is no longer reinforced, it fades. If memory is not kept vital, kept alive, it withers and grows weak, distant, the strong song reduced to tortured breathing, until finally, the breath comes not at all. And we have, then, forgotten.

It happens with all things. What we wore when we were first kissed. What we heard on the first date. The curve of their throat, the turn of their shoulder, the taste of their skin. What we felt when we argued. Moments, trapped in time, trapped in memory.

I cling too hard to memory, most times. Nostalgia flavors every breath I take, the scent of shadows and dust, roses and rainsoaked earth. I have to make a deliberate decision, expend conscious effort, to release my mental fist's tight clasp on the past. It takes work, to let go. It takes work to let myself forget.

I admit I'm damaged, that I forget far too much, that I will always forget. It is why I seek to reinforce so much, letters, notes, phrases, said over and over, anything to cross the mind's barrier between short-term storage and the long reach of deep memory.

The forgetting started last November, when I was twisting around memories best left behind, holding fast to them anyway out of habit, out of old remembered pain. Somehow, releasing those moments would mean I would lose something, have lost, somehow, because I had not retained them, sharp and cutting; I had chosen to make my sacrifice meaningless. Banal.

I no longer think this, but I think that work needs to begin again. Words and conversations, pictures and props, the gradual ephemera of lives and loves long ago severed...I need to start again. Put more things away, more memories left to drift and decay, far from active recollection. Keep them until the pain is gone, and I can make final decisions to retain, or to destroy.

What I have...shines, and more consistently than it pains. What I have nurtures, and I would forget much to retain that nurturing. What I have, it is my believe, is better than what I lost.

We all have things in our past which haunt us, which pain us, which make us wince away. Consider forgetfulness a means by which to give the hurt places time to heal. To let slow time and kinder experience layer over the raw wounds, like nacre round the bit of sand that irritates the oyster.

Some things I will keep. Obelisks of warning. Signposts of experience that carry nothing more than a single banner, a word, a phrase, a carved rune; enough to prick the skin to gain a flash of recall. More than that, I need to begin to put my past behind me.

It won't be easy. I, who live in the past more than I live in the present or dream of the future, will be uprooting from all the lands I know. It will take time, time and care, more time than I want, more care than I think I need.

But it needs to be done. And, as with every other personal event...the only one to do it is me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

your lips come as some surprise, that they would want to come and meet mine

I'd heard rumors of a new hair script that de-rezzes the hair if rezzed out instead of worn. I still have no visual proof, but I did go over to my sandbox of choice to see if I had anything with the script in my inventory.

[22:32] Emilly Orr: In a nutshell: I want to know if any of the Magika hairs I've got has the 'database' script
[22:33] Fawkes Allen nods
[22:33] Fawkes Allen: Database script?
[22:34] Emilly Orr: This is apparently how it goes: some of Magika's hair--I don't know when--will, upon the user rezzing it out on the ground, de-rez, capture the avatar name for future use in a database, and/or call the av who rezzed the hair out a thief.
[22:35] Emilly Orr: Sabine Gully of Magika confirms she uses the script, but did not confirm when she started. Truth Hawks is considering using the script, but hasn't yet decided. And Helanwye Vindaloo of Deviant Kitties *was* using the script, but took it out of everything but her demos for "a variety of reasons"
[22:35] Emilly Orr: At least one or two of which being, the news broke on the SLUniverse forum site, and nearly everyone there was massively unappreciative of the script usage.


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(Rezzing out hairs gained in Magika hunts, first.)

[22:38] Emilly Orr: Okay. So it seems the stuph from the December hunt is fine; rezzed out Lalala [one of Magika's hairs] with no problems.
[22:39] Emilly Orr: Hmm. Her discount hair doesn't do it either.
[22:39] Emilly Orr: I am really loathe to go pay money for hair if it's just going to de-rez...
[22:43] Emilly Orr: So. How important is it, in the scheme of things, to verify this script exists? Is it worth a cash outlay to try to prove that the script is in place and working?


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(Rezzing out actual hairs bought at Magika.)

[22:48] Fawkes Allen: Okay, let's put it this way, you aren't a reporter. You don't get cash to turn in articles.
[22:49] Emilly Orr: It's very true. I resent this, actually, because if I had a budget for this? I would *so* test more things. :p
[22:49] Fawkes Allen: Buying the hair is only useful in this case if you *support* the script, because truth be told she has admitted to using the script, which means there's little investigating that needs to be done.
[22:50] Fawkes Allen: If however, you disagree with its use, then no, you do not spend money on her hair, on her demos, not 1 more L to someone who uses such practices.
[22:50] Emilly Orr nods.


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(Seen with beacons on and active scripts on; nothing is in the hair I have, at the least.)

[22:50] Emilly Orr: And I don't actually *need* to know--beyond seeing it work--because I don't support the use of the script. I think there are better ways to defeat content theft.
[22:50] Fawkes Allen: They need to be scolded, they need to be boycotted, they need to have their business ruined.
[22:50] Emilly Orr: Well, I don't know that I'd go that far--me, myself, you understand. As objective as I can be, is to say what I know.
[22:51] Emilly Orr: I leave boycotting and ruining for others. It's not my place to state anything other than opinion.
[22:51] Emilly Orr: I will say, I like her hair. But not to the extent of giving her more Lindens past this point, nor will I be going on Magika hunts.
[22:51] Fawkes Allen: I suppose, but this isn't any different then what Video game Companies are doing, or treating. Suddenly, Customers are simply Renters. You didn't buy her hair to do with as you will, instead you rented her hair for her to revoke at anytime a script thinks you don't need it anymore.
[22:52] Emilly Orr: True. And I never thought that was a good development in video games.


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(All Magika items removed to consider keeping later; hair, skins and clothing, gained through two hunts and direct purchases.)

[22:55] Fawkes Allen: DRM is easier to circumvent in the Real World for multiple reasons, the first of which being that the OSs themselves do not, as yet, support any real method for blocking a user. SL has a Perm System, Copybot is a pain, texture stealing is a pain. It's doable though, but truth be told this won't stop *them*. They'll just find another way, perhaps they'll take it to a No-Script zone.
[22:57] Emilly Orr: Actually that was suggested--not for purposes of hair theft, but because many people do not *like* hair with scripting, it's one more potential reason for increased lag.
[22:57] Fawkes Allen: You can't stop thieves, you can only make it annoying to steal from you. Either by making sure they get few profits off it, selling your own things for cheap or free. Or by making it difficult and annoying to steal. This doesn't do either really, it just annoys the actual customers.
[22:59] Emilly Orr: And annoying your customers is never good business.


It never is; piss off your customer base = no customers = why are you building saleable things, then? But even with that, for some people, if this catches on, they will stop buying all hair. And that's something hair designers really shouldn't muck about with. Irk your occasional clients, that's one thing. Irk the hair addicts who rave to their friends and belong to your group and drop two hundred to two thousand every week?

Effectively, your business is over. Which is very bad for business.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

and I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart

one hurts, and I hurt for that pain
one worries for me, and I do not know what to say
I say I am fine, and I believe this
I am distracted, but I am with them
I am there, but my thoughts are spinning
far beyond their reach


We discovered a very odd thing. I'll have to ask Miss Neome who made her new ArtBunny avatar, because apparently it uses the same texture as Winter Ventura's remake of the free YouTube TV.

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he hurts, and I hurt with him,
I understand when he says
he should never have said yes
I want to protest, I want
to rail, to scream, bitter recriminations
towards the source of pain
the source of pain
potentially within reach


Her remake is exceptionally elegant, all things considered. A temp-rez "remote" system slides out from the bottom, giving one the ability to stop, pause, clear entirely, or input media to view.

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but I cannot reach out
it is not my place
and if I am honest with myself, truly
honest, I do not have the time
I do not have the time to
spend all my time
in that space of anger and pain
it is my pain, because
it is his pain
it is not my pain, because
I have my own


Everything was fine, we were feeding links back and forth, as we do in our rare relaxing time, watching Miss Neome cycle through changes. Then she crawled into the ArtBunny, and suddenly, the whole of her skin changed--to the media the TV played.

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As you might imagine, this amused us greatly. We went from political commentary and odd musical bits directly to twee baby animal vids--just to see them play out on her media-reflective skin.

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one hurts for me
I tell him not to worry
one hurts, and I grasp at words
to try and ase that pain
some pain will not be eased, some
pain will only be endured, and
not one bit of my wanting to help
will help, will ease, will soothe--
much as I want, much as
I might need it to...

...I am beyond its reach.


I don't think we've laughed so hard in several days, mayhap several weeks. It was amusing, as well as being vital.

Though now I think we will tease her about being the Morgaine studio's mobile TV.

(One additional note. You might have noticed the change to the layout. And, in fact, the layout before. One cannot shatter, and reform the way they were in all regards. One must shatter, gather pieces, and move on to repair and refinish. This is the first step of my remaking.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

all that noise and all that sound

Well. Some interesting new controversy over on SLUniverse forums, relating to a new script that some makers of hair have adopted to prevent content theft. Stop me when this makes sense, okay?

1. Make hair.
2. Texture hair.
2. Add script to hair that will de-rez the hair if rezzed out on the ground, may or may not call customers thieves in main chat, and email a report of where and when and by whom the hair was rezzed out, creating a database of potential "content thieves" for later use by the maker of the hair.
4. Attach desired permissions to hair, package it up and put it out for sale. Potentially remember to announce that this hair is now enabled with said script; or chuck the whole thing and include the notecard detailing what the script does in the hair only after purchase.
5. Sit back, and watch the controversy rage.


See, I noticed none of you stopped me, because really--this never makes sense.

"Punishing the people who PAY FOR your products is never, ever the way to go." --Wildefire Walcott

Look, I understand why this seemed like a good idea...maybe...but really, even half an hour of thinking it through reveals the massive flaws in the system. The first one of which falls into the whole "customer loyalty" concept--prevent thieves? Fine. Piss off your customers so they stop shopping at your stores? Not so bright.

"What's funny too is the current variations of Copybot work just as fine when you're wearing something as an attachment." --Joshua Nightshade

It used to be true that the early versions of CopyBot required some remote-controlled av to be walked through the grid, stopping and pausing in front of other avatars for very long times, to properly "grab" the textures the robo-avs "saw". This is no longer the case. As the means to defeat them came into play, the CopyBot system and other similar programs have grown increasingly sophisticated.

It's a whole different hacked world, these days.

"There are plenty of content creators on the grid who survive just fine without resorting to these techniques. They understand that there is more to building a business than a few products. The best defense is creating a brand known for quality, and promoting that brand." --Beebo Brink

Paired with that is the hope that, if one has such a brand, the customers will also notice when someone else on the grid starts churning out knock-offs, and tell the maker what's going on. Generally speaking, to get any other maker to stop selling stolen goods, the hacked maker themselves must register a formal complaint with the Labs or with XStreet, for instance--and usually per item. Still and all, it's more than occasionally worth the effort.

Now, I will give props when they're needed. This, directly from the maker of Deviant Kitties hair:

"In Light of some new information.

"Deviant Kitties (with the exception of Demos) will no longer be using this form of prevention.

"It is currently being removed from all hairstyles containing the script."
--Helanwye Vindaloo

So sometimes, the tempest in a website is worth the effort--Vindaloo changed her mind. There are other makers who haven't, and all I can say is, know what you're getting into. You won't be able to rez the hair on the ground to edit; you won't get your money back if you do and it disappears; you may or may not hear the green spam call of "THIEF! THIEF!" if you do rez it out; and you may or may not be put on a list.

And none of us really know what any maker does with such a list, or how it will be used. But it's your own choice. Is your favorite hair maker using this scripting system? Is it worth it to you to keep buying from them if they are?

Only you can say.

In other news, the latest rumor--traveling across sims at light speed, nearly--is of some sort of scripted object, carried by avatars, that will instantaneously crash sims. Here's an account of one of the latest instances:

[1:48] Frurry Fluno: ok, Ejaculayte Socke is crashing sims
[1:49] LadyGwenhwyfarRose Nightfire: Griefer name sweetness...lodge a complaint...
[1:49] ProudlyPink Sheridan: that name doesnt exist according to search....
[1:49] Frurry Fluno: Ejaculate Socke
[1:50] Emilly Orr: Ew, what a name. How did you find this out?
[1:50] LadyGwenhwyfarRose Nightfire: mmhhmmm it's newly registered as yet...that is how they do it...Linden labs have not entered it into the database
[1:50] Emilly Orr: No, it comes right up if it's spelt right.


I'd pulled up the profile at that point. Mr. Socke has no picture, no first life info, and was born onto the grid on the 28th of January, 2009. Figures.

[1:51] Emilly Orr: I'm back at, how did you find this out, Frurry?
[1:52] Frurry Fluno: from being there
[1:52] Frurry Fluno: just caught a glimpse of him before the last crash
[1:52] Emilly Orr: You saw him and then the sim went down? What did he do to make you think it was him?
[1:52] Frurry Fluno: crackpot looking avie, the name, and was holding a gun
[1:53] Emilly Orr: Right, but did he *do* anything?
[1:54] Emilly Orr: Because otherwise, he's just another idjit noob.
[1:54] Frurry Fluno: didnt see anything cause everything crash as soon as he was seen, his gun apparently fills the sim instantly
[1:54] Emilly Orr: Interesting.


He belongs--or belonged; I still have the profile up, but as of now, I'm being told his profile no longer exists--to one group, Hormonal Abuse. The group info of this group reads:
The best form of child abuse would be to rub penis-enlarging hormone cream on them every day until they hit puberty at the ripe old age of 6 and or sprout the opposite sex's genitalia. Amen. They'd never be the same again.

Yeah, that's about useless for a group.

[1:55] Frurry Fluno: others at lusk know its him, attacked 6 times already apparently
[1:55] Frurry Fluno: caused a rollback losing some older vendors
[1:57] Frurry Fluno: didnt rez objects so probably is a gun loaded with scripts to overload script time to 1000%


There are three visible members of this group (for those who aren't group members, which I'm not): Mr. Socke--whose current title is Sexually Abuses Kids, along with a member named Secksee Texan who has the same title, and then in the middle--morbidly appropriate--is someone named Dyslexic Popstar who's running under the title 8 year old w/pubes.

Again? Figures.

This from about an hour later:

[3:17] Frurry Fluno: i knew it
[3:17] Frurry Fluno: just before the latest crash
[3:17] Frurry Fluno: [3:14] Ethnic Huntress shouts: Faggots
[3:18] Celeste Jetcity: O_O
[3:18] Emilly Orr: So another furry attack. Idiots.
[3:18] Phr0zen Katsu: [3:14] Ethnic Huntress shouts: u srsly blv dat?
[3:18] Emilly Orr: Damn. Can she buy a vowel?
[3:19] Celeste Jetcity: ahahahahah Emily
[3:19] Frurry Fluno: Phr0zen, this have been going on for the last 2 hours
[3:19] Frurry Fluno: various names
[3:19] Phr0zen Katsu: Bot Spam?
[3:19] Emilly Orr: With no Linden help, apparently.
[3:19] Frurry Fluno: all in the group named Hormonal Abuse
[3:20] Celeste Jetcity: they have definitely anything better to do in life it seems
[3:20] Frurry Fluno: sim crashing
[3:20] Emilly Orr: Which is a terrifying group anyway.
[3:20] Frurry Fluno: they seem to be using extremely heavy scripts
[3:21] Frurry Fluno: definately a grief group
[3:21] Frurry Fluno: group title is sexually abuses kids
[3:21] Celeste Jetcity: OMG


Indeed. So Luskwood has been dealing off and on all night with griefers taking them down. Why? Who knows? Part of the eternal battle between furs, and the rest of the net that loathes them. Likely, more will surface in time.

In the meantime, if any of these names show up--Ejaculate Socke, Ethnic Huntress, Dyslexic Popstar, Secksee Texan, and potentially Aria Abattoir--who was born in 2004, but who is apparently currently married to Dyslexic Popstar--in your sim, or anyone else who lists Hormonal Abuse as one of their groups: remember, BAN FIRST, ask questions later. It may be your sim that goes down next!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

do you care what I believe, or that I wear a heart upon my sleeve

I don't know if I want to be the one who states that the degradation of personal manners in Caledon is spreading; perhaps it's part and parcel of new people finding out about Second Life as a whole, who have no concept of comportment, personal responsibility, and what not to say in public.

To wit, the recent banning from Steelhead of a woman who described sexual acts in graphic detail on the public chat, and then demanded residents lick her feet.

Aberrant behavior? I would definitely agree. Singular? No, and this is where I venture briefly into the former waters of propriety and discipline: because this has happened before, and obviously, by this incident, it will happen again.

Perhaps a refresher course on netiquette is needed, more than anything else.

First, remember, we're all in this together. Second Life draws in people from everywhere, all levels of experience, education, interest and intelligence. This means strong friendships can form with people one would never otherwise encounter; but by the same extension, if we are not physically there (gathering at a dance, a discussion group, a poetry reading, for tea), there's not the same sense of contact. It's easier to be rude; easier to get (and stay) upset; easier to dismiss the words read as only words.

Very few people are exempt from this disconnection, and believe me, I am not leaving myself out. I have fallen prey to it just as often; it's common, it happens.

This also goes double for the additional point of choosing one's words with great care. This does not mean don't have fun, don't jest, don't play--but remember, all we have to go on are our words. If those words are easily understood and arranged in such a way to create what we intend to send with them: wonderful. If they are read by the other person as an accusatory mass of vitriol, or are viewed by someone else, as shockingly obscene, then there is definitely something wrong with those word choices. Think before you type is an excellent guideline.

For good or ill, we will be judged on the quality of our writing. Online, our words are our blood and bone, our muscle, our structure. Existing purely on net abbreviations, misspelled words, shorthand and other net conventions is somewhat akin to showing up in public with pieces missing. Also remember: for the most part, if people we interact with didn't enjoy reading and the written word, they wouldn't be there--but also, for some reason, Second Life (and the net in general) attract many non-readers who then confuse others greatly. Try to be clear when speaking; it will minimize confusion all around.

More than that, we're back to choosing our words with care, but in the arena of proper grammar, spelling and the like, it goes even farther. Even those gentles who may not spell well, who may send out lower-case phrases and sentence fragments (I am not immune to this myself) should know there's a vast difference between not spelling well, and not bothering. An example:

ok i get it

versus

o i c

The first fragment is all lower-case, there are abbreviations, there is no punctuation--but it's clear, it's concise, it's understandable. The bottom fragment demonstrates one is unlettered completely as well as profoundly uncaring to improve.

Typos? Misspellings we didn't catch? Wrong window syndrome? We've all done it; people like CoyoteAngel Dimsum make it a running joke (which, on occasion, still makes me giggle like a five-year-old). But no one is immune; it happens.

There is still a difference between that, or genuinely not being able to spell (dyslexia, for example, which makes reading, writing and typing a challenge), and not caring how one spells, because "it's no big deal" or "everyone spells like this". Believe me, "everyone" does not spell like this; and nearly everyone appreciates some effort being made on trying to communicate, over indifference in all communication.

Bob Crispin once said, Treat every post as though you were sending a copy to your boss, your minister, and your worst enemy. While that mostly--and justifiably--applies to email, it's good to keep in mind while speaking in world. If every word we say, we know is echoed to our employers, our counselors, and those who wish us ill...how would we phrase things? Would we rephrase them? Would we self-censor, or accept all our words as valid for that moment?

I'm not trying to encourage anyone to stop talking; everyone has that right. Just to keep in mind that what we say may not be understood how we mean it; and that we are, not always, speaking to the most favorable audience.

I am who I am; even with consideration of what I type, at times I deliberately choose inflammatory modes of speaking. Sometimes this is done for effect; sometimes I am simply consumed by hurt and outrage and, in that moment, I type what occurs to me. On reflection, these are not always my shining moments. I admit this; I accept this.

We are who we are; fair and flawed, bright and dark. All we can do, in the end, is try to do better. Nothing stops us from doing better, after all, but ourselves. We are our greatest challenge; we do more to get (and stay) in our own way than anyone we may meet.

When will there be more Strindberg & Helium? I miss them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

everything you are you've been once before, everything you hear you've heard it once or more

I had intended just the two posts on the topic of Miss Commons, and believe me, this is not going to be the third--but considering the very nearly insta-modded post that surfaced in the Babbage forums, I do have to comment on a few points made there:

1. I don't live in Winterfell (or at least, not yet); I only work there.

2. I'm not calling the hounds on rabbit hunting; I am, at least a third of my time, some stature of rabbit myself: white angora usually, but I also have a small grey bunneh girl and a Tiny black rabbit.

3. Having spoken at some small length with Miss Cornelia Rothschild yestereve, while my essential position remains unchanged, I cannot completely view as an entire waste of pixels anyone that she values to such an extent. There must, I can only conclude, be something likeable beyond the bile.

I do not anticipate finding it, nor do I plan to extend the laurels of peace and go looking: but I am now convinced that somewhere, perhaps deeply buried, perhaps only on view to her intimates...there is someone underneath it all who cares, who understands, who loves.

I've just never seen it. And few others seem to be looking under the sheer weight of accusatory vitriol.

So. Moving far on.

Did I mention the Steampunk Monopoly set earlier? If I haven't, I should have, and if I have, there's little wrong with mentioning it again. It's quite inspired, and the instructions--though mostly "shown", not "told"--are fairly clear as the pictures go along.

The roots of the uncanny valley theory. (This, also, explains things, more directly, but why I'm linking that is because I'm fairly sure Dr. MacDorman's depiction of a "healthy human" is a young Michael Jackson...)

The concept of Will Smith as Captain Nemo kind of scares me. I'm all for updating things, to translate to new audiences, but Will Smith? Seems far-fetched.

I've been steadily falling in love with Twisted Thorn Textures; nearly every Friday, if one belongs to their group, one gets the chance to participate in their half-off sales of various objects from the store. It's a five or six artist collective, now, so there's genuinely always new items every week.

Currently in the want-but-cannot-afford list: a set of "Steampunk Vacuum Tube" sculpts. They want L$1000 for them. I'm very tempted, but a) I don't have (non-rent) Lindens to spend, and b, there's no tube textures included, just the ten sculpt maps.

Still, if I found vacuum tube textures somewhere, I'd adore getting the set.

Finally, I must mention Miss Ordinal Malaprop's latest entry, SLXStreet, Product and Faff. It is an excellent essay on what potentially is going on behind the Labs' purchase of ShopOnRez and XStreetSL, and it brings up a truly impressive point, which I also do not think the Labs have fully considered: that of content theft.

Content theft, while occasionally the large sensation in world, has never effectively been dealt with on either ShopOnRez or XStreetSL, even back when they were SLBoutique and SLX. Oh, yes, there were complaints, of course; they freely encourage reporting providers of stolen content. But by and large, most of these texture, skin and object hacks would remain selling their stolen goods for little to great profit, and nary a hiccup in their operations.

Why? Because in the end both services chose to reserve policing of stolen content, by and large, to the Labs themselves. Sorry, they would say, you must take up such issues with Linden Labs; we just provide a reselling service and do not have the ability to know what is and is not stolen content.

Which is fair, I suppose, save for one thing: now the Labs own XStreetSL and ShopOnRez. And even though they are phasing out ShopOnRez for XStreetSL, the problem remains: now they cannot say blithely that we, the end consumers of content (who do not wish to consume stolen content, by and large) must then go in-world to the Labs to register complaints. As they are the owners, any content claims will go directly to them--in fact, their words supporting this purchase all but confirm that merchant support will be handed over to the Labs, that they may integrate in-world search services to support XStreet merchandise, that they may update both the interface and the in-world vendors to reflect more of the 'official' Linden Labs look.

Which means they cannot then say, sorry, not our problem--because it will be. Which means every time anyone complains about stolen content on XStreet, someone at the Labs is going to be assigned to look into it.

This may be good in the long run. I hope it will be, I truly do. But where the Labs are concerned, I have become quite the pessimist, so I will simply wait, and work on transferring my content, and see how the Lindens manage to bork up web-based SL shopping as we know it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

you're so easy to read, but the book is boring me

I'm still being baffled, reading various snippets on the Babbage Ning. Threads like this one just confuse the hell out of me:
You knew what you were doing when you signed up, and there has been a very clear campaign of biased moderation on the Ning in which I am lectured if a mod thinks I might've even pretended to have 'uncivil' thoughts (i.e., daring to point out a flaw in an idea/statement) much less defend myself from slander, and in which I have been blatantly attacked unprovoked repeatedly, and the mods turn a blind eye.
Huh. Maybe I need to break some of the terminology down, then.

Uncivil: adjective Impolite, discourteous, rude; lacking civility or good manners: "want nothing from you but to get away from your uncivil tongue" (Willa Cather)

Civil: adjective Polite, courteous, not rude; marked by satisfactory (or especially minimal) adherence to social usages and sufficient but not noteworthy consideration for others; "even if he didn't like them he should have been civil" (W.S. Maugham)

Miss Commons tosses out phrases like "There is nothing offensive about my posting" and "they can put on their big girl panties and deal with it"...without ever once seeming to really understand how alarmingly uncouth, rude and uncivil she's really sounding like, in these many, many comments.

Other "sentiments" Miss Commons seems fond of using:
"Calling someone a liar isn't automatically a personal comment..."
Actually, for many it is. Being informed that one thinks someone else lies directly (as opposed to perhaps stretches the truth a bit, or might not understand all the nuances of X situation, for instance) is considered by some to be a very personal attack, equivalent to slapping their chosen spouse in public for no reason, or stabbing a child, or kicking a beloved pet. How anyone could think that it's not "automatically a personal comment" is beyond me.
"Please, keep making wild and incredibly retarded accusations."
Yes, indeed, because the phrase incredibly retarded is obviously chosen to foster intelligent thinking discourse with opponents. Of course, one is always at their most rational when incredibly retarded is typed as a description for anything.
"People read intent and tone into text where it doesn't belong."
This is the really interesting bit--and she makes this point again and again, whether we want to hear it from her or not: that she, herself, is completely, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically level when she writes these inflammatory accusations against character and commitment, so of course it's all us out to get her, and read into her plain and unadorned words the heated dramatics of the last month in New Babbage.

Right. "[P]ut [your] big girl panties on". That's rational. Calling comments by others "little tantrum[s]". Right, perfectly rational. Then naming anyone else who disagrees with her "hypocritical" for doing so. When does it end?

Maybe it ends here, with a moment of possible truth and honesty:
"I'm the antichrist, really."
Yes, I know, I do know she's being sarcastic here...but hey, if the sabot fits...

She's terrorized Caledon to a standstill. She seems to have done the same thing to New Babbage. What's next, New Toulouse? What's left of Antiquity? Steelhead? The mainland?

Ooh, actually, I'd be in favor of that last one. Several sections of the mainland really need to have Miss Commons inflicted upon them. It'd teach them to shape up and stop being so idiotic on their own.

what better measure of what you were doing here than what you can leave behind

I'll likely have more to say on this topic than this one entry, but I did want to get this into print before I curled up for sleeping.

To preface anything I say: I, though I have walked the streets of Babbage (and found them lovely) and gone both to town meetings and social events, have not made Babbage the center of any of my experiences, by and large. I met Madcow Cosmos for the first time in New Babbage; I met Elda Luna for the first time in New Babbage; I discovered what an Air Kraken was the day Oolon Sputnik took Elda, Edward Pearse and I through his Etheric Transport Cabinet for the first time.

These are memories I cherish, and I still love the look, the layout, of New Babbage. But I freely admit, Caledon called harder, and I moved closer to Caledon as the days turned into weeks turned into years.

But, this doesn't mean it doesn't sadden me to see the same tragedy befall Babbage as befell Caledon--or at least, once befell Caledon, before Miss Kandace Commons, with the thanks of a grateful nation-state, left Caledon in a flurry of bile, curse words and poisoned shards of spite.

To wit, in this post from Babbage's forums, entitled Farewell New Babbage, posted by a rather well-known Urchin-about-town, Mr. Django Yifu asks--and considering the tone of some of the posts I've been reading through, he asks in an extremely gentle fashion--"How peaceful was Babbage before the return of Miss Commons?" in and amongst his other points.

Miss Commons' reply to this was just as full of spite and bitterness as I've come to expect from every other dealing I've had with her:
"This was brought up in previous threads before, but what I find sickening is that 'as a Nation State,' we seem to have an inability to dissent without being labeled as 'uncivil.' Pfft. Very very little has been said by anyone in the massive amounts of posts that have been generated that could rightly be labeled as uncivil. I'm sorry that you find it so incredibly offensive that people might explore and investigate topics and candidates who are vying for control over New Babbage, but so be it. As Mr. Merryman pointed out, the populace of New Babbage have an impressive ability to ignore rational argument in favor of complaining about the 'tone' or 'intent' of a post without nary a care for its CONTENT. Yes, I called someone a liar, with clear evidence that they did in fact lie. That's considered uncivil? Pardon me, I consider lying to be uncivil. I'm the one causing trouble by pointing it out? So be it. If a candidate who's attempting to become our new fearless leader is a demonstrated liar, I think that is important for everyone to know, so I put it out there."

So, let's see, more or less in order, these seem to be Miss Commons' main points. Do accept that I am broadly paraphrasing things:

* 'No one's saying anything less than respectful, what's your problem?'

* 'You people don't care what anyone says, as long as it sounds polite, so I'll just say what I need to say because truth is more important than phrasing!'

* 'Baron Wulfenbach is a big liar-head and he's always going to be a big liar-head and I've proven that so nyaah.'

You can see where I might have a problem with this.

But it doesn't stop there. Miss Trafalgar begs Miss Commons' indulgence, in not turning every forum post into a whinefest; Doctor Obolensky tells her to back it down because she's only contributing to the problem; a fellow Urchin, DreddPirate Bob, feels deep dismay for even mentioning the election to Mr. Yifu, as now Yifu is fully sick of the whole thing and of Babbage entire; and Miss Franizzi outright asks Miss Commons to stop.

Does she listen? Does she even reflect once on the impact of her words and consider moderating her behavior? Apparently not:
"ME stop? No offense, but that's bullshit. This was a clear personal attack aimed at me for no reason. Hypocritical, truly."

I have to laud Doctor Obolensky for this next reply:
"Kandace...

Even if it *was* a personal attack, it was about the mildest one I have seen. When you post, just take a brief moment to ask "Am I making this worse?".

Because you are, really. I don't really know if you intend it or not, but you take the slightest spark, and throw gasoline on it with the way you phrase things, and the words you use.

A solution to a problem rarely involves attacking a symptom with a sledgehammer."

Wiser words, in debates like this, might never have been spoken. And I tell you this knowing full well what I have said, in Caledon, and the last little contretemps I found myself in. And what did I do? Backed the hell off. I keep myself away from chat most of the time; if I get concerned about something, I always now stop, and ask--"Would responding to this harm Caledon seriously?" And if the answer even verges on a 'yes', and I can see no other reason to interact at that point but retaliation, I do not post.

How hard is that, truly?

Apparently, far too difficult for Miss Commons to grasp:
"There is nothing offensive about my posting, only the apparent need of certain residents in New Babbage to assume hostile intent. Contrary to what you seem to imply, it's not me against 'the rest of the internet.' There are actually rational people who grok what's being said. For the rest.... they can put on their big girl panties and deal with it, or leave."

Now, in all fairness, I must add something else before I finish this, namely, the words of Miss Kamloops, who claims Miss Commons as a close personal friend:
"As someone who knows Kandace in real life, and has known her for many years prior to me joining SL (2005), it upsets me to see people constantly attacking her for 'just wanting to hurt Babbage' or 'causing drama'. She has undoubtedly been tactless and hurtful to many residents and especially Shaun since being ousted, but this was entirely in response to BEING ousted for unjust reasons [ ... ]It has nothing to do with wanting to start drama; she really does care about the outcome. I don't say this because I am standing up for Kandace. I say this because I think many people don't understand her and take what she says in a way that differs from her intent in posting. In conclusion, she is tactless and blunt, always has been and always will be, but she does care for Babbage immensely and does want it to succeed."


I am not Miss Commons' friend. After she exploded for the first time--over security orbs in another sovereign nation, of all ridiculous things--in Caledon chat, and upended everything into a mire where the cursing spewing from her lips could have blistered lead paint at five paces, and easily two-thirds of Caledon promptly closed the window when she spoke--and we all could see exactly who left, as that was the time on the grid where every group window opening was followed by a running count of who joined and who left--I will never be anything less than overwhelmingly critical of her, without any additional forays into attacks on those with whom I am friends. Just her alone, I do not like, I will not like, that's plain and I'm uncompromising in this.

But for whatever reason, I have been where she is. I have perceived an issue so great that I was willing to cast aside decorum to breach the walls of silence, and make my voice be heard. I was willing to fly in the face of convention to save something I loved, something I thought then was truly at risk. I have railed against the darkening of the light, and mourned that my words were not heeded.

But nearly all of you know what happened after that. I listened. I grew up. I moved on. I accepted that wrong action, even for right reasons, remains wrong action. One of the guiding precepts of my life, here or elsewhere, is that beginnings must be clean, if endings are to be clean. I did not begin with clean hands; therefore, the entire process was tainted.

I know this now. And that is exactly what is infuriating me from a distance: Miss Commons seems doggedly determined to keep shouting her supposed 'truth' from the greatest height, into a megaphone, while carpet-bombing Babbage residents with biting sarcasm and bitter venom. And she doesn't see it.

Right now, almost all vocal residents of New Babbage just want the whole process to be over already. It has turned uglier than even Miss Commons' once-infamous wrangling with Winterfell in CalChat; it has made several residents of New Babbage leave New Babbage, establishing homes temporarily--or perhaps not so temporarily--in other sims, and--at least in the case of Yifu, and I know this well, if there's one, there are others--inspired more to leave the entire grid.

And she doesn't see this.

Even someone claiming to know her well calls her tactless, blunt and hurtful.

I know the life of a sledgehammer. I know its mental weight in my hand, the effort it takes to swing at objects at a remove from myself; I know how much power it takes to keep it moving forward until it strikes its target and the target shatters from the force of the blow. I know how often there is peripheral damage, shrapnel shards sunk into innocent flesh, feelings and hearts hurt and bleeding from what my hammer has done.

I am trying to be better. I am trying to choose my words with care. I am trying to know that if I engage in argument, in the fostering of drama, that I am part of what holds things back from escalating to lethal levels. I am trying to listen more than I speak, and speak carefully when I do.

The sledgehammer has no conscience. The sledgehammer swings, and it will strike whatever is in its path as it swings for the target. Ideals, philosophy, young thoughts, old feelings, all are crushed in an instant. The sledgehammer doesn't care.

I care. I hope to all my gods Miss Commons does too. But once we reach the point where people see our names and log off, rather than face what we might do, what we might say--we have lost the battle. No amount of shrieking into her megaphone, insinuating the concepts of so-called 'rational' discussion while she proves by her very wording her argument is anything but rational...no amount of ground gained in these pitched pit battles will equal the amount of ground she has lost.

Believe me, I know. At this point Doctor Obolensky is right--she is making the problem worse, and she needs to stop. She needs, more than anything else, to choose her words with great care. She needs to stop putting out fires with gasoline.

Because a New Babbage turned over to the winner of the elections, that turns out to be empty? Serves no one. And that really seems to be what things are pushing towards unless something changes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm becoming this, all I want to do is be more like me and be less like you

Everyone, meet Lia Johin:

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Lia Johin is German, and escorts. In fact, her tag when I ran across her in Illuminati said, body for sale. I will say this, it is an exceptionally well-toned body, but still--since when is shopping nude, anywhere, a good idea? Doesn't part of the point of "sensual retail", so to speak, lie in the art of leaving something to the imagination?

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(The larger size lacks the little pink hearts.)

(*sound of insane cackling for a brief moment* Ah, Photobucket, even virtual nudity now? Well, I lack entirely the ability to put this image up elsewhere, as I deleted it from my drive after I uploaded it to Photobucket--apparently Full Frontal Johin is too spicy for anyone else to see. Bwahahaha....)

And don't get me wrong--I think she has truly lovely tattoo work. But really, when all you're wearing is bling--and everything blinged, on her, from bracelets to collar, navel piercing on down--and tattoos, well...one definitely gets the impression of "body for sale", but one also usually adds mentally, "...and not for all that much".

Should I be as confused by this as I apparently am? Maybe it's just my mind worrying over how virtual eggs get fertilized...

All right, to the main...whatever. An issue has been handed to me, and I've done the best I can with some overly defensive participants to track down what exactly happened when. Believe me, this would be an easier entry to write if I was more partisan; unfortunately, I see the good and bad that's happening on both sides.

It started in September of 2008, when a woman named Lerochelle Destiny wanted to make cool things. Now, there's always been two ways to do things on the grid--building and buying--and Miss Destiny, she bought, then decided she really liked the leg structure of what she bought, and wondered if she could make legs like that on her own.

Now, around this time I will admit, Destiny, Fawkes and I tangled over what is, and is not, ethical in building. At that time she sounded like she was taking full-perm leg structures, retexturing them, and selling them on her own--which is, if not outright theft, at least highly iffy on the ethics.

Let me stress that this incident was separate from anything involving AvEntity, later; it's more for reference and establishing the timeline.

Now, sometime after that, she looked into sculpt-making. I do not know how she makes sculpts; I do not know what program she uses. I have talked over what she described to me personally, and what she describes happening on her forum page, with a builder friend of mine, and that builder said that without a proveable accusation of outright sculpt theft, we're left with Destiny likely reproducing from the original; in other words, she essentially traced the design, in a three-dimensional sense, and thus arrived at her digitigrade legs she sells online and in her store.

Here's where the waters definitely get murky, though.

At that point she wasn't offering shape, skins, the whole shebang; she was just offering legs and ears/tail combos. But one Mephitis Jezebel, the lead designer behind AvEntity, started receiving a ton of IMs over the course of two weeks saying more or less the same thing: "Meph, you've been ripped off! You gotta go see De La Fae and look at their legs!"

So...she did. And what she saw, fairly understandably, disturbed her. But by the same extension, I don't think it's a case of everyone on Destiny's side lying, per se--I think it's perfectly possible she didn't lift the sculpt maps for Jezebel's legs, but rather reverse engineered them, more or less, from scratch.

Before I go farther, let me make something clear--reverse engineering isn't theft, precisely. It can be more or less ethically iffy (more being, buying a laptop, say, tearing it apart, then rebuilding the nearly exact same laptop, only using your company's parts; less being, taking a series of photographs of a cell phone in a store, then designing your own version of their cell phone 'look'), and I think it's not irrational to say that Destiny is pushing towards the 'more' side of this definition. But did she outright steal the sculpt maps? Did she configure her legs to exactly match, and be mistaken for, Mephitis Jezebel's? Did she design her legs with the intent to defraud AvEntity?

I'm willing to extend the benefit of the doubt here, and say the answer to those three questions is no. But there are some odd additional points.

For instance, there's this odd missive featured on one of her forum pages:

[14:44] Becky Nosferatu: (Saved Wed Jan 14 15:36:42 2009) Mephitis Jezebel: The prim size and rotation attributes on the invisiprims Lerochelle used are the exact same as the ones I used on my fox avatar. Maldavius did a UUID check a few weeks ago and the claw UUID she's using on her avatar feet match mine. Direct theft right there. I spoke with one of Lerochelle's friends and they witnessed her using a program called SculptyPaint to make slight modifications to the ripped leg textures (such as smoothing out the tops). Wingless Emoto has also reported having trouble with this same content thief.

Now, Miss Destiny blames a lot of the UUID similarity on this reported issue, but that only covers newly-created prims, not prims that have been complete, and named, and registered with the system. I did speak with her about this, and that was her answer--that if this Maldavius did get the UUID of her claw shape, that it would be the null key the JIRA issue reports. I don't entirely buy this; but by the same extension, no one on the other side is talking.

There's also this mention from the main captured conversation between Destiny and Jezebel:

[10:40] Lerochelle Destiny: and i will have the same issue when i come out with my wolf tails like the one i am wearing... cause they look like yours... among many many others

So, in the middle of a maker coming to her store, already irked at receiving IMs that claim she's been ripped off--instead of trying to work something out, or talking to her honestly, at least...it seems like Destiny is further taunting her that she's going to be copying another item for sale at AvEntity.

Whether or not that's what Destiny meant, that's likely how it sounded to Jezebel. Making the whole situation even more unstable than it was before.

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This is AvEntity's purple Fox, at their main store in Geardust. It's a very pretty fur: good muscles, good feet, great legs and face; in fact, I keep circling around one of AvEntity's foxen to replace my standard Lost Furest (from more than two years back) Arctic Fox.

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A close-up of the contested legs in question, at the best angle I could get, with the limited amount of time I was able to be in world earlier.

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De La Fae's contested "bunneh" legs at their main store in Solace Whispers.

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And the best angle close-up of the "bunneh" legs I was able to get.

So are they the same leg? Your guess is as good as mine; possibly, your guess might be better than mine, depending on who's reading this entry, because you likely know more about sculpts and sculpt map issues than I do.

But I do know one thing: if accused, explaining the situation generally always works better--with most people--than becoming immediately defensive and calling in friends to "prove" that one is not a thief. It just makes you look bad, frankly, and it never wins you friends, or even gains you understanding.

I'd only add one more thing--that all of us, every maker on the grid, is influenced by everyone around us. That clichéd phrase, "Nothing new under the sun"...well, it's not precisely untrue. We are recyclers of dreams, reusers of content; we reconfigure, we are taught techniques that others had taught to them, we improve and better our own creations, but no one creates in a vacuum. Were Destiny's digitigrade legs influenced by Jezebel's designs? Very, very likely. Is this illegal? Not at all, it happens every single day, every single hour, every single minute, maybe, depending on how wide one is willing to define her terms. Is it ethically slippery?

Ah, there's the larger question. And, as far as I know from everyone I've been able to speak with, Mephitis Jezebel has not filed a cease and desist order according to the provisions of the DMCA--at least, not yet. I'm not absolutely sure of this, but I don't believe she's turned in ARs against Destiny, either.

Though Destiny has turned in more than one AR--generally for harassment--on Jezebel and AvEntity.

As Destiny says, look over the copyright infringement allegation, look over the theft of sculpt maps post--and make up your own mind. Who's right, who's wrong? Legally, is there any way to be sure? In the realm of digital property, virtual creations...I'm not sure there truly is.

Where pixels are involved, things get very blurry, very fast.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

in our thund'ring herd we feel a lot like cattle

Living with a Disney addict, as I do, Disney things are never far from my mind. I'm not a Disneyphile myself--I like the movies, Anaheim is okay, never been to DisneyWorld and don't care if I go--but Magicland in Bracket is made for Disney addicts.

Think I'm kidding?

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This is Main Street, Disneyland, Anaheim, California.

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This is Main Street, Magicland, in Bracket, on the grid.

Of course it's smaller; but they've done a wonderful job with the land they have, truly. There are flaws--they've chosen to go heavily with photosourced images, and sometimes that creates oddity, like the two-dimensional gaslamps that line Main Street, eternally lit by the noonday sun...whether or not the sun is out, at that point, in SL.

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Frontierland, still under development. There are more than a few 'rides' and attractions that are still being built; but it's well worth a wander just to see what's there now.

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This way to the People Mover, to see the park in style; just watch out for the sim barriers, you've got an easy fifty percent chance to be dumped from the elevated track back down to Main Street!

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If you've ever wanted to dress up like a Disney character, Once Upon a Time has you covered. Simple shoes, (Linden) hair, shape, flexi skirts; scarily reasonable prices, even considering the no-flex hair.

Here's where the fantasy started to fade for me, though:

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This is the Gingerbread Girl outfit at Giuseppe & Teena's, in the Crystal Arcade. Is this, or is this not, Disney fetish wear?

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And this...thoughtfully labeled the "Candy (Jumpsuit)" (in case you thought you were buying the girl), it's got cleavage slit nearly to the navel. And even if you're able to discount that, the hooker heels, the Malibu tan, and the breast implants are anything but "made for the Magic Kingdom".

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And the Aloha Dress? Is slit to below the navel...and nearly low enough onlookers could decide for themselves whether the lass is bare...or believes in natural hair. So to speak.

Kind of creepy in Disneyland, if you ask me...oh, forgive me, Magicland.

Still, taking everything they've done into account, they do have a comprehensive legal notecard available in their business office:

Welcome to Magicland Park!

Magicland Park and Magicland Estates (collectively, “Magicland”) is an entirely fan built area. Magicland is not associated with the Walt Disney Company, Disney Enterprises, Inc., their subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or third party licensors (collectively, "Disney").

Unless otherwise noted, all 3-D generated content in Magicland is the intellectual property of the account holder beholden to the Second Life avatar Kriste Beck and/or the account holder beholden to the Second Life avatar Pixie Ella. Other intellectual property holders may includethe account holder beholden to Louie Etchegaray and Doom Kelberwitz. All rights are reserved and may not be used elsewhere without permission.

Unless otherwise noted, textures used within the generation of the 3-D content of Magicland have been generated from non-copyrighted images freely available within the public domain.

Any Disney-owned attractions, designs, Disney Character images, locations, logos, products, registered trademarks, or trademarks (such as Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World, their event, attraction and area names) are the property of Disney. IN NO CASE DOES MAGICLAND MAKE ANY EXPLICIT OR IMPLICIT CLAIM TO ANY OF THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS ASSOCIATED WITH DISNEY.

All Disney images, Disney Characters, and logos are registered trademarks and/or copyrights of Disney. Other non-Disney registered trademarks, copyrights, and other intellectual property are owned by their indicated intellectual property owners. No endorsement of Magicland by the Walt Disney Company or any other company is implied.

Certain names, graphics, logos, icons, designs, words, titles, and/or phrases at Magicland may constitute trade names, trademarks or service marks of Magicland and/or of other entities. The display of trademarks at Magicland does not imply that a license of any kind has been granted. Any unauthorized downloading, re-transmission, or other copying of modification of trademarks and/or the contents herein may be a violation of federal common law trademark and/or copyright laws and could subject the copier to legal action.


Good to know. Maybe they won't be shut down after all.

I'm definitely intriqued to see what they do for the Haunted Mansion.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

oh the mountains, oh the valleys, oh the streams love would climb

Love as thou wilt.

They are fools, who reckon Elua a soft god, fit only for the worship of starry-eyed lovers. Let the warriors clamber after gods of blood and thunder; love is hard, harder than steel and twice as cruel. It is as inexorable as the tides, and life and death alike follow in its wake.


Jacqueline Carey has written an intense, moving series of books about the people of Terre d'Ange, and their movements through their familiar, yet altered world.

I've loved the series for quite some time, following each book as I can, going back and rereading from time to time, reacquainting myself with Phèdre nó Delaunay and her adventures, and the lives and cultures she touches and interacts with.

I am not the only one. I still remember, with only a slight gloss of nostalgia, the wonder of finding Kusheth on the grid. I may have been one of the few who took the advice to keep on the path in all seriousness; having read what Kushiel, lord of punishment and pain, dealt out to Phèdre, his Chosen...well, suffice it to say that, virtual world or not, I wasn't ready to do more than blink at the deadly items for sale in the shop.

And anything that involved drowning; bleeding out; or being strapped to a metal frame while car battery current ran through it--well, let's just say that was never my idea of fun.

At one point, there was a Terre d'Ange on the grid as well; I never had the time to go there, I think it left some while back. Yet another loss.

I spent slightly over a year, dancing for Lindens, escorting for more. I played many roles and many games with my clients, but the one ideal I always tried to hold to was Phèdre's: Love as thou wilt. And more than that, I suppose I was also thinking thoughts of the Firefly universe, and Inara Serra's gracious Companions.

I was never a Geisha, trained to the arts of conversation and performance; I was never an anguisette, trained in the arts of covertcy and pain. But what I was, I did my best to bring to my clients: if I didn't like them, at least a little, I couldn't escort for them more than once; and many of my clients, at that point--at least for a time--became friends.

Perhaps it was a case of expecting too much, reaching too high; I don't know. I never saw myself, even as an escort, as having any particular "station" in life; and to this day, I do not see that I did anything inherently wrong. All women sell themselves at some point, all of us; for protection, for prestige, for power; for companionship, for comfort, for coin; it simply remains the manner of sale to be determined. This is not a bad thing, in itself, this is not meant to be insulting; it simply is, it's life. It's our lives.

Everyone, man or woman alike, sells themselves at some point. Employment is trading work for payment; barter is trading goods for different goods, or goods for service. I see no difference in selling sex, companionship--or even Companionship--for Lindens; it's part and parcel of what everyone does to survive.

But I do admit, my view is far from the most popular. And I could wish for a bit more of the grace of the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers, in daily life on the grid: the thought that in all things we do, we should try to do them with grace, and love.

Love as thou wilt. Because love is a wonderful, and terrible thing. And because it, and what we do for it, because of it, should be honored as the wonderful, terrible thing it is, and can be.

Despite the wreckage of my past, I remain convinced that my choices had merit, at least at the time I made them. I cannot believe less of my choices now. Wherever they lead me, I can commit to that at least: that I choose the harder path of love, over war. And if I am not capable of love, at least I can tolerate, or ignore. Sharpening swords is for the young, and in six months I'll have been three years on the grid. I am, at the least, no longer young.

Monday, January 12, 2009

zutto sagoshitu sottou hikoru homomi hikori

I'd heard earlier this morning that Bland was having a sale. I knew only that their famed "Subtle Dress" was also on sale.

Would I'd never asked...but I had to know.

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(Click for the larger image, if you're really curious.)

Well. Now I know. And knowing is...something.

Still, all separates are marked down to L$25, all dresses down to L$50, and all shoes--all four pair of them--are at L$20 until the sale ends and Bland closes. It's modern wear, all of it, but with simple clean lines that are not unappealing.

Save for the Subtle Dress.

Before that, though, Creator Allen was in the throes of intense creation--namely, Cecil, which is now out at Autogenic Alchemy. It nearly didn't happen at all, though, because the sandbox we frequent suddenly--and mysteriously!--filled up completely on prims.

This was on the astounding side, as 15,000 prims don't vanish instantaneously for no reason.

All we could find was this builder, Midas Blazer, in her temporary workshop about a thousand feet below our position. (We literally fell into her skybox.) She had nearly a full dozen nukes, and three styles of hair rezzed out, along with a platform, a half-hollowed orb, and some other scattered oddities.

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Nothing she had added up to 15,000, and plus, there was the communication difficulty...she spoke Spanish, but didn't like my translator; I, speaking English, could never make her understand I didn't speak French.

Finally, I told her I'd contact the fellow who, it turned out, had rezzed all the nukes for some reason. Who asked, when I IMed him, if I could just return them.

I said, as I didn't own the sandbox, I wouldn't be able to, but he could, if he came to her location...and he said he would.

We left soon after; Miss Neome couldn't even attach avatar bits to herself!

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Finally, I've begun exploring Mondserrat. Volcanis is by far the more dangerous of the two islands. The "anti-probe" protection scared me more, but the turkeys sent me running screaming into killer bees...and then the UFOs came, and I understood the "anti-probe" devices!

But Verdis, while lovely, also has giant spiders, savagely prowling black panthers, and a Tiki bar.

I fear the Tiki bar.

Still, it's worth another journey. Who knows, I may find something very interesting indeed!

...beyond new ways to die, I mean.

(The song comes from the anime series Chobits, and is sung by Rie Tanaka. It's called Ningyo Hime, which means "Mermaid Princess".)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

he ran for the fields and came back the next day, you had blown out his eye and you could see his brain

They don't see. They don't understand. They pin their grasp of things on one phrase, a set of words I've long abandoned in this.

Mayhap a brief lesson, then.

Pronunciation: \ˈnät-sē, ˈnat-\
Function: noun
Etymology: German, by shortening & alteration from
Nationalsozialist, from national national + Sozialist socialist
Date: 1930

1: a member of a German fascist party controlling Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler
2: often not capitalized a: one who espouses the beliefs and policies of the German Nazis : fascist b: one who is likened to a German Nazi: a harshly domineering, dictatorial, or intolerant person


Between one thing and another, as the madness swept over Germany, between 1933 and 1945, between nine and eleven million people lost their lives. By medical experimentation; forced marches; starvation, torture, and separation of young from old; and, before the camps were established, systematic kidnapping and cremation of those who protested. Nine to eleven million died. From state-adopted Nationalsozialist thought.

What is so apparent, so manifestly clear to me, they bypass without a thought or care. They jest, they laugh, they spin, while I stand fast, and they circle unaware.

Soviet citizens and dissidents died; homosexual men and lesbian women; the terminally and mentally ill; most prisoners of war; anyone who was unfortunate enough to be disabled; Polish nationals and Slavic travelers; Freemasons; Jehovah's Witnesses; the Romani; and of course, the Jews. It was systematic; it was brutal; it was very nearly total.

"Oh, but can't you take a joke?"

You know, it is a funny thing. Having been raised around individuals with numbers tattooed on their arms from the camps; having Rom extended family who still tell the stories of the camps around the fires; and, between one thing and another, having an affinity for Jewish men on the grid...

No. Not attached to that word, no. Apparently, I can't.

Now I think the only ones who truly understand are the demon leaving and the ones already gone. Between the damned and the dead, the living haven't a prayer, and no gods that would hear.

And I tire, I tire deeply, of being the only voice raised in protest. I tire of being attacked without cause. Alas, though, I cannot tire of being misunderstood...because that has the weight of a pattern of a life, behind it. I should be used to it by now.

But what galls, what deeply galls...is I thought I had explained this, this, at least. If nothing else got through, this did.

Mr. Sascha Vayandar apologized, and I accepted his apology. I cannot yet offer apologies of my own to Mr. Hax, because I still feel he was, is, out of line.

But Miss Homewood, I expected better of you. And all that laughed with you when you let 'chat nazis' drip so lightly off your tongue.

This is my last word on the subject. I give you no more ammunition to strike against my heart this deeply. As far as I am concerned, this is over. And any of you who laughed this morning, you should be ashamed, that you even once would seek to compare me with them.

How dare you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

too tired to laugh at a vaulting moon

Short but intriguing news story on how many sims are being returned to the Lindens. Pointed, if brief, commentary on the situation.

Some distracted wanderings, as I go about my preparations for sleep.



This was taken as we were sitting in Bare Rose Tokyo's VIP room. And yes, Miss Neome really did think she was being all stealthy and ninja-like with her hiding skills.

Later, she hid even more effectively by sitting on the Raffle ball in the room, and rotating in a slow violet orbit. Indeed, hardly noticeable at all, she was only a bauble four times the size of the Raffle ball...

Speaking of o'erlarge baubles, however...

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Click for a larger version of where, exactly, this was. During Solange's 12 Days of Christmas hunt, she actually buried one of her ornaments completely. It was exactly where she said it would be, and it was a 10x10x10 sphere, also as she said.

But still, fiendishly clever. Kudos to you, Miss Cerveau, well played indeed.

Ever wonder what happens when one of your prim eyes detaches during transport, and you come in partially Ruthed? Wonder no more:

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Miss Midnight Bohemia explains wordlessly why two eyes are better than one.

And finally, from the ornament hunt at Falln, an odd encounter with the lurking undead.

Glimpsed on the stairs, a flash of red, a tuft of white fur, a snarling zombie visage from beyond the grave:

[3:29] My Pet Zombie Claus: See you later.
[3:29] My Pet Zombie Claus: >>:[
[3:29] Emilly Orr: Zombie Claus!
[3:29] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Can we get back to business?
[3:29] Emilly Orr: No!
[3:29] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Are you serious?
[3:30] Emilly Orr: It's Zombie Claus!
[3:30] My Pet Zombie Nurse: You're kidding. It is?
[3:30] Emilly Orr: It is!
[3:30] Emilly Orr: Look!
[3:30] Emilly Orr: He's right down there!
[3:30] My Pet Zombie Nurse: I see. Right down there is he?
[3:30] MystiTool HUD 1.3.0: Collision with "My Pet Zombie Nurse", Owner: Azriel Demain
[3:30] Emilly Orr: OW
[3:30] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Tell me a story.
[3:30] MystiTool HUD 1.3.0: Collision with "My Pet Zombie Nurse", Owner: Azriel Demain
[3:30] Emilly Orr: OW
[3:30] My Pet Zombie Nurse: What color are your eyes?
[3:30] MystiTool HUD 1.3.0: Collision with "My Pet Zombie Nurse", Owner: Azriel Demain
[3:30] Emilly Orr: They're impaled on your cart!
[3:30] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Impaled on my cart are they?
[3:30] Emilly Orr: OW
[3:30] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Can we get back to business?
[3:30] Emilly Orr: Stop hitting me!
[3:30] My Pet Zombie Nurse: OK I'll try not to do it so much.


I ran across the floor; he ran after.

[3:33] Emilly Orr: OW
[3:33] My Pet Zombie Nurse: My brain uses AIML to format responses to your inputs, but I don't have one for that.
[3:33] Emilly Orr: You did that on purpose!
[3:33] Emilly Orr: NO
[3:33] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Are you serious?
[3:33] Emilly Orr: STOP
[3:33] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Stop what?
[3:33] Emilly Orr: Running over me!
[3:33] My Pet Zombie Nurse: You are asking about yourself?
[3:33] Emilly Orr: I tend to
[3:33] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Thanks for the information.
[3:33] Emilly Orr: Fine, look, just...I'll stand over here.
[3:33] My Pet Zombie Nurse: I am glad to hear it. Sorry my eye is not attached right now. I haven't heard anything like that before.
[3:33] MystiTool HUD 1.3.0: Collision with "My Pet Zombie Nurse", Owner: Azriel Demain
[3:33] Emilly Orr: OW
[3:33] Emilly Orr: MINE EITHER
[3:33] My Pet Zombie Nurse: It goes without saying. I only hear that type of response less than five percent of the time.
[3:34] Emilly Orr: No kidding
[3:34] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Would I kid you?
[3:34] Emilly Orr: Let me find my eyes.
[3:34] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Go ahead, try to find your eyes.
[3:34] MystiTool HUD 1.3.0: Collision with "My Pet Zombie Nurse", Owner: Azriel Demain
[3:34] Emilly Orr: OW
[3:34] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Is that your final answer?
[3:34] MystiTool HUD 1.3.0: Collision with "My Pet Zombie Nurse", Owner: Azriel Demain
[3:34] Emilly Orr: AAAAAAAH
[3:34] My Pet Zombie Nurse: Tell me about your likes and dislikes?
[3:34] MystiTool HUD 1.3.0: Collision with "My Pet Zombie Nurse", Owner: Azriel Demain
[3:34] Emilly Orr: Great, you're homicidal AND codependent!


Honestly, I like FallnAngel Designs, I really do. And most of the time the zombies are...well, you know, a little off, they're zombies, but...still...

I bet he's just jealous of Zombie Claus.

And off for needed sleep.

Monday, January 5, 2009

when the trees are sobbing faintly, with a gentle unknown woe

Perhaps it's an impossible ideal, perhaps wishing for the "old standards" I and others remember is asking too much. It was never about dress, it was never about social standing, but I thought it was about decorum, manners, and public presentation.

I really am, when push comes to shove, speaking more about the stunning lack of respect overall, over the individual lapses of proper etiquette. Personally I don't care if someone's more used to "sweetie" or "dearie" or uses proper names as a source of address (if not at a formal ball)--it's the respect behind it--or not--that matters most.

I've been thinking a lot about this, and it all comes down to a very few points for me:

* I don't want to participate in a themed community that ignores its theme. Are we or aren't we recreating the nineteenth century, as best we can? Are we or aren't we interested in Victoriana? If the general answer to both of those questions is "no", then my behavior must change, eventually: I must adapt to a society of Caledonians who want to dress however they want, talk however they want, and I'll likely drop the "Mr." and "Miss" designations along with it. But it will be a hard change for me, because that's part of why I adore Caledon.

Of course, along with losing social formality and bustle skirts will come an increase in net abbreviations, coarse humor, and the equivalent of fisticuffs in channel, because that's what's happened in every other active group I'm involved in.

On the other hand, having witnessed over half an hour of discussion in ISC chat last night about blingy nipples and the validity of male genitalia, I'm not so sure we're not already there.

* I don't want to feel as if opening ISC chat is a bad idea. This one's key: I don't want it to get to the point where I'd rather be off the grid than open--or listen to--the official channel. I hear so many people, over and over, say they just keep the window closed; but how does that help anyone? The channel's there for a multitude of reasons, but the main ones (at least, so I think) are asking questions (about theme, about prims, about scripting, about history--being willing to ask, and willing to answer, I think is valid and important to ISC chat), asking for help from EMs (restarting sims, clearing away prim clutter, et cetera), announcements from Des (and again, closing the window? Closes off the Des announcements, some of which he doesn't make notices for), and fostering community (which takes a variety of forms, from passing around notable links to asking how someone is doing to simply chattering back and forth on issues of the day in Caledon). If we choose to keep the window closed, we are in essence choosing not to participate in the evolution of social Caledon. And that's not the answer.

* I don't want to get to the point (again, unless we're abandoning theme entirely) where I'm "Em" to everyone out there. Des says it's not about politeness, it's about being decent, genuine, compassionate and forgiving. And those are good things, I grant those are good things. But is everyone identifying "decent" and "genuine" correctly? I don't, personally, think "decent" includes who's schtupping whom at any given time. I don't think "decent" includes cursing on channel. I don't think "genuine" means we act any old way we want and everyone else should just deal.

Some time back, I got into a tangle with a group I was involved with at that time. Things went south insanely quickly; and my decision, then, was to reinforce the fall. If they wanted an enemy, if they wanted someone to hate, if they wanted someone to despise, by God I would be that someone. And I was. I was hateful, I was vicious, I was petty beyond all dreams, I was a bitter picador, scoring points in blood as I went.

No one won that argument. And it ranged for three weeks online, which--online--is a very long time indeed.

More than four years have passed since that point. I am older now, and just possibly wiser. And I am doing my level best not to descend into the place where it's all about counting off obscure digs and being ruthless, being mean, just for the sake of it.

But I don't think I'm wrong in the main. It wasn't about any one particular avatar, that night this all started. It was about the last straw, the absolute last straw, for me and many others. It might have been anyone, old or new, that caused the snap; though I doubt it, highly, it could have been peerage or merchant, debutante or dilettante; whom didn't matter, what they chose to say DID.

I have been lambasted in other places for "attacking newbies"; that's inaccurate, I think, and disingenuous besides. While it may, when laid out, come down in some fashion to "new" versus "old" Caledon, I don't think that's the main point. And in any case, I never meant "new people to Caledon" versus "people who've been in Caledon for some time". I meant Caledon as a whole. How it is now, as opposed to how it was a year ago. Or two years ago.

And in any case, as someone else pointed out, it's not all about me--it's about what's best, for all of Caledon. What do we as a group want? Societies can be equated to living organisms; individual people (think "cells") may have power in small ways to effect things, but only the body at large can effect large change. So what does Caledon the body want? What makes it happy? What will best keep it happy?

Common decency is only common if everyone understands what decency means. Compassion, forgiveness, these are easier (though harder to personally attain--we are far too fond of grudges, some of us). And I will maintain to my dying day that "genuine" means being open, being honest, insofar as we can, being real if that's not too much of a metaphoric impossibility--but it does not, it cannot mean, for me if for no one else, an utter disregard for each and every propriety.

Manners. Social lubricants. I mean that. Manners are the difference between a society of disparate values and views that can still come together and enjoy time spent, and a society that is anything but polite, anything but social, anything but understanding, approachable, friendly or entertaining. "Social pleasantries"? They are exactly that--things that help to smooth the way for the society to function well, and in good health.

Decency, compassion, forgiveness--these are excellent community guidelines, and I fully support them. But manners should be paired with decency. Manners, after all, in society at large, at dances, at gathering points, just meeting on the street...they're part of what separates Caledon from any other section of the grid.

Without manners, we might as well become a nation of skyboxes, and never go to ground. And where's the fun in that?

(Later edit: I should let this go, I really should, but I find I must make at least one additional point. This whole issue does not pertain in the least to the OpenSpace sim conflict. It has persisted and steadily grown--or descended--for at least six months if not longer. The OS issue happened after I noticed the first signs of decay, and while it hasn't helped, it didn't generate everything, poof, from a hat. This went on long before.)