Wednesday, March 31, 2010

welcome madness, say hello

I'm going to hate tomorrow, I can already tell. Several of us are thinking the same thing. Because really, honestly--what possible Aprille Fool's joke could the Lindens pull that wouldn't be less terrible than 2010 so far?!?

Name one. I'll wait.


Any time.


Didn't think so.

YouTube's already started, by advertising the wave of the future--text videos!

Gah. Just count me out. I'll be the one in the corner, hiding.

In the meantime, Miss Alexiel Magnolia has a slightly less usual problem than most of the grid--medieval furries aren't thick on the ground. But she's doing her best to identify the medieval/fantasy stores that have prim pieces that are modifiable, or can be adjusted (relatively) easily by customers. She starts with Kouse's Sanctum, which is an excellent place to start.

(I would say that some of Kouse's skirts do have separate belts, but that I've also remapped my main tails to be stomach-centered, instead of spine? So most skirts default to the pelvis; then the tail to the stomach; leaving the belt for the spine. Works out wonderfully.)

(Of course, most wings attach on the spine, and are not so easily remapped.)

In other news, Massively's Tateru Nino reviews the third-party viewer policy, and I decided I should do more than skim it in passing, because I want to know why Emerald didn't make the cut.

What I found was...well, insane.

Policy on Third-Party Viewers

We at Linden Lab offer the official Second Life viewer and the Snowglobe viewer or connecting to Second Life.

If you're looking for a more customized or experimental experience, we do permit you to use third-party software to connect to Second Life from any device (“Third-Party Viewers”). To promote a positive and predictable experience for all Residents of Second Life, we require users of Third-Party Viewers and those who develop or distribute them (“Developers”) to comply with this Policy and the Second Life Terms of Service.

Okay so far. "We want you to use Viewer 2.0. If you're going to be difficult about that, you can use Snowglobe. Or, if you're determined to go outside without your coat and play in the street, then you can use a third-party viewer. But we don't recommend that."

This Policy governs access to Second Life and our technical platform that supports Second Life by any Third-Party Viewer, by which we mean any third-party software client, regardless of its source code, that logs into our servers. This includes software for viewing Second Life, any chat clients, utilities, bots, and proxies as well as applications that may not be listed in our Viewer Directory.

Right, because the viewer directory covers a pitifully limited set of viewers. But let's talk third-party software clients, then: they mean Emerald and the Kirsten viewer and CoolSL and the long forgotten but beloved Nicholaz, and all the rest...but do they also mean text-based SL clients? And things like Dame Ordinal Malaprop's TwitterBox? And they mentioned bots, and to be fair, Copybot is not the only bot program out there...but any other applications and scripts, do they also mean? Like the YouTube televisions that are so prevalent, and any movie players in world? What, exactly, is the defining criteria for any third-party software client [...] that logs into our servers?

The scripting language in general could come under fire for that one. Because a lot of scripts reach outside SL, require logging in to SL, or to a website and SL simultaneously...and that would seem to fit the vague definitions they're sort of offering up, here. Am I wrong?

This Policy does not place any restriction on modification or use of our viewer source code that we make available under the GPL. Rather, the Policy sets out requirements for connecting to our Second Life service using a Third-Party Viewer, regardless of the viewer source code used, and for participating in our Viewer Directory.

Um...okay. Translating that out of legalese, what I think they're trying to say is "Build anything you want, really, we don't care. Lock yourself in your room all day and hammer away at the code, it won't bother US any. But if you think you're going to come down and use that code to hook into our kitchen without washing your hands and combing your hair, you've got another think coming, young coder!"

All users and Developers of Third-Party Viewers must agree to the following sections linked to below, in addition to the Second Life Terms of Service. If you do not agree, you are not allowed to use Second Life through a Third-Party Viewer.

This also is pretty clear, but pretty blatant. What does "not allowed" mean? Does it mean the Labs will block non-compliant viewers from accessing? What if one of the non-compliant viewers is the only thing that a user can connect with, because they can't use the official viewer in either version? Let's be honest here--every time the Labs do a major upgrade, people drop off, because their tech simply isn't good enough to use the grid. What happens then?

Also, note that fun little definition slide in the beginning there--"all users and Developers". Dwell on that just a bit. This is not just about the code pirates, this is every user on the grid, that has to know about this.
  1. Required Functionality and Disclosures
  2. Prohibited Features and Functionality
  3. Intellectual Property Rights
  4. Data Access and Privacy
  5. Third-Party Viewer Branding and Second Life Trademarks
  6. The Viewer Directory and Self-Certification
  7. Your Responsibility for Third-Party Viewers
  8. Policy Changes, Enforcement, and Termination
  9. Definitions
1. Required Functionality and Disclosures.
If you are a Developer of Third-Party Viewers
, we require the following of all Third-Party Viewers:
  • The Third-Party Viewer must use a protocol that is compatible with the protocol of Linden Lab’s viewers as it is documented in our source code. If your Third-Party Viewer departs from our protocol, you must clearly document your departures either in the source code that you publish for the Third-Party Viewer or in another publicly available location. You must not use our protocol in a way that unduly burdens our servers or interferes with our providing the normal functionality of Second Life.
  • Each different version of the Third-Party Viewer must have a unique viewer identifier. You must not use the same viewer identifier as a Linden Lab viewer or another Third-Party Viewer.
  • If you are a Developer who distributes Third-Party Viewers to others, you must also provide the following disclosures and functionality:
Okay, hold up here a moment. I had to go to the source code wiki for this one, and more or less understood things, and what they seemed to be asking for. So there's nothing I can find lurking in the substructure. Still, there's a very telling phrase, that Miss Nino caught, too: You must not use our protocol in a way that unduly burdens our servers or interferes with our providing the normal functionality of Second Life.

The first part of that makes sense. "Don't code like an idiot. If you want to live here, you'll have to code responsibly." The second part, though...someone define for me what "normal functionality" is for Second Life? Because if the Labs mean the average user day in Second Life...well, let's see. This would mean third-party viewers would have to:

* code in the same difficulties and problem areas in the code that the Labs have failed to address since 2006--or before;

* break any patch fixes back to the original code if they're not implemented in the Labs' officially released code;

* remove any fun bells and whistles added simply because the functionality was in the code, and some people (*coughs* Emerald) thought they'd be fun to toss in;

* make sure that the code contains random bugs, scattered breakdown points, and occasionally flips out entirely, requiring a complete restart of the end user's system.

Is that what they want? Or do they actually mean a normal day in SL, which, to my knowledge, never exists, where:

* teleports never fail
* group chat never fails
* asset servers don't break down
* lag never happens
* everything rezzes in beautifully
* sculpts don't take years to rez
* Mono scripting doesn't cause sims to die
* and Lindens listen to their residents?

Because, really. I'll be old, grey and quite likely dead five centuries before that's going to happen.
  • On or linked to from your software download page, or in another location that a user must visit before installing the Third-Party Viewer, you must make the disclosures listed below. For Linux distributions where there is no opportunity to provide the disclosures before installation of the software, you can comply with this requirement by having your software client present the required disclosures or a link to them in a dialogue box that the user must close before entering login credentials for the first time through your software.

    You must disclose the following:
Okay, again, this seems cumbersome, but not *directly* invasive, per se--"Comply with our restrictions, damn it. We know what's best and we can tell you what to do." They've done this for years, this is not new.
  • The name of the Third-Party Viewer and a disclaimer that “This software is not provided or supported by Linden Lab, the makers of Second Life.” (For more on naming a Third-Party Viewer, see the section below on Third-Party Viewer Branding and Second Life Trademarks.)
  • Customer support information for the software. If you do not provide customer support, you must say so.
  • Any surprising or unexpected functionality, including any limitations on features and functionality generally available to Second Life users through Linden Lab’s viewers.
  • Any content or functionality provided by the Third-Party Viewer that is not General or not appropriate for all audiences. If you’re uncertain whether specific content or functionality is General, please err on the side of disclosure.
  • A link to your privacy policy explaining your practices regarding any collection, storage, or use of user data. (For more on a privacy policy, see the Data Access and Privacy section below.)
Okay. So. Let's break this down point by point. First point is easy--"I'm writing your name in your underwear so you'll know which is yours. But mark me well, young coder--if you buy any new underwear you write your name in those or I'll just throw them out when you bring laundry home!"

The second point's easy, too--provide customer support. Or don't. And if you don't, say so. Hells, that's more than the Labs make themselves do.

The third is just...weird. Most third-party viewers (the ones I'm familiar with, anyway) are more than happy to tell you exactly how their code departs from "official" LL code. In fact, most of the time installing? They still go by that screen that lists the patch deviations, the patch fixes added, and what version of the code they're working from. This is a no-brainer; the Labs are insisting on compliance where there's already compliance. How redundant of them.

The fourth one hurts my brain. So, are they saying that all viewer content must now be General-rated? Are we going to get fuzzy little Care Bears now dotting the landscape? Or do they mean no RLV viewers? In fact, what do they mean, here? If I'm reading that right, all viewers are already General-rated, because no viewer demands you pinch a button shaped like a pixel nipple to turn volume down! (Just to grab a handy example.)

Or do they mean, rather, Emerald's notable bouncing breasts feature? Is that deemed not "General" enough?

Which brings us to the fifth point, and the fifth point is a thing of beauty. They are now requiring all third-party viewers to comply with the Labs' ongoing privacy policies, as well as post their own. Will anyone who's not already on the list get on it, now? For most people, that's a hard poured steel line in the cement.
  • Installation of your software must be at the user’s direction, and your software must not interfere with the user’s ability to use Second Life with another application. You must have affirmative user consent for any automatic updating or launch of your software.
  • Un-installation must be easy and completely remove your software from the user’s computer without damaging it or the user’s ability to use Second Life with another application.
  • The Third-Party Viewer must present to users and require user acceptance of the Second Life Terms of Service and any updates to it.
  • On the application login screen and in the “About This Viewer” window, you must display the name of the release version and the version number for the Third-Party Viewer.
And these last four have oddities, too. Point by point:

For the first, what do the Labs mean here? Because currently, even if I am using the official Second Life viewer, I can barely keep a net browser open, be it Firefox or Chrome--and Second Life and Chrome do not play nicely, at least for me. Keeping Second Life open and streaming media content? Occasionally impossible. Keeping Second Life and Gimp open, so I can work on textures on the fly while building in SL? It would be easier to bite off my own finger, seriously.

So they expect functionality out of a third-party client that they can't manage for themselves? Pickydamnpicky, Lindens. Also, stupidly unclear.

Second point sort of clears things up--I think what they're trying to say, as filtered through Lawyer, is "another application" means "SL's official viewer". So for the first point, they want to ensure that people can still go back and use the official client, I guess?

And for the second, they want the third-party client to uninstall completely--when requested to do so--and again, not interfere with use of the official SL client? Maybe?

The third point simply says, they have to make people sign the official Terms of Service, or they can't log in. But does this mean always? I mean, don't get me wrong, I like playing Runes of Magic, but every damned time I sign in, I face the ToS. If they've changed the initial paragraph, I read over it again, but I'm in the maybe 8% of Runes' user population who bothers. This, if it's an every-login insistence, is going to get pretty damned old for people.

And the fourth hasn't been an issue for any viewer I've ever used, official or custom.

I think this is getting too long, so expect later entries on the policy changes today or tomorrow.

Oh, and Miss Nino says the Labs got back to her, and confirmed they planned no further changes. Bet me this isn't over.

I trained the core to stop my growth

Grace McDunnough writes on choices and controversy regarding the new Terms of (Linden) Service. I admit, I skimmed through things, seeing as how I had an open window with the Terms of Service there I told myself I'd get back to. I caught most of what she did, with one startling exception: I didn't see where it said new users of SL had to use viewer 2.0, and only viewer 2.0.

[Note from the Editrix: it actually says 2.0 is now the default viewer download on the official SL blog. It's not that new residents can't use alternate viewers--it's that every new avatar created is only provided viewer 2.0 to download.]

Suddenly I get why Oxbridge professors have been struggling with the new client so much--they can't recommend their students use another browser, because apparently, new accounts aren't given that option! That seems insanely restrictive, don't you think?

Ciaran Laval notes that Linden Labs went blog crazy today, and that's a good way to put it. And, considering the sheer numbing tonnage of info on the blog to sort through, even people who like to read dictionaries for fun (waves) are getting drowned under the deluge.

"Interesting times, now tomorrow hopefully LL will announce the Xstreet changes many of us are dreading and then announce it has all been a long planned April fool and we'll have a jolly good chuckle with them!"

Gods, don't I wish. And I'm not even going to touch all the places in the new ToS agreement--which everyone who logs in is going to have to agree to, or not log in--where the Lindens demand the abrogation of rights that individual people are guaranteed. That's a whole other ball of sticky wax and I'm leaving that alone for lawyer types to wrangle.

There's also the machinima and photograph policy that Ciaran mentioned: this one leads off with the mildly stunning:

"If you’ve had the experience of entering a film festival, you know that festival organizers ask about these permissions. "

and moves from there to the perverse:

"(a) Land Owner Consent for Snapshots and Machinima.

If you wish to take a snapshot or capture machinima of content on another Resident’s land, then:

  1. For Snapshots, check whether the covenant for the land prohibits snapshots. If it does, then you need special permission from the land owner to take the snapshot. If it allows snapshots or doesn’t address them, then you do not need special permission from the land owner as long as you comply with any terms that may be in the covenant.
  2. For Machinima, check whether the covenant for the land allows machinima. If it does not or doesn’t address machinima, then you need special permission from the land owner to capture machinima. If it allows machinima, then you do not need special permission from the land owner as long as you comply with any terms that may be in the covenant."
Buh. Just BUH. So now the covenants--everywhere--need to be rewritten to include whether or not people have permission in advance to take machinima or photos on that land? Oh, Des and Lady Serra are going to LOVE this one...

And there's a puff piece on "growing" use of Viewer 2.0 here; the comment that's most telling for me?

"According to a Linden rep, just while Viewer 2 has been in public beta, already 10% of Second Life users have already begun using the new client regularly."

OH, yeah. 10% now, baby, 17% later, WHOO!

The Alphaville Herald covers something they call the "epic fail" of in-world groups, and I'd have to agree. Also, there are some great raw truths in the AWGroupies chat that the article quotes--including the fact that the reason for chat lag is that the distribution lists for group chats are not scalable, they're static: the same system used to access and maintain calling cards, I believe.

So, just as having more than 1000 calling cards means your avatar can't log in (because login perpetually times out due to the calling card database being culled for every name on that list every time an avatar logs in), having a large group means chat lag, because every time a message is sent, the database is sent a query in return: Does X belong to this list? Does Y? Does Q? Does ML? Does V? Does C? And it does this every time.

So let's talk the Independent States of Caledon. I stopped counting when I went beyond five hundred members in the group, and I wasn't even a quarter down the list. I know we have more people, but let's just round up to 2000, okay?

Every time someone says something--the database is sent a verification query 2000 times.

Every time I respond to something someone says--the database is sent another verification query 2000 times.

Every time someone responds back to me--the database is sent another verification query 2000 times.

Rinse, repeat, burn. There needs to be a better system.

There's a comment that's priceless below that article, too: namely, an urging to go and vote for the group limits JIRA, to raise the amount of available groups, and the amount of roles within each group. (Personally, the second would be a godsend--at one point, I was dancing for a club that wanted me in five groups so I could effectively cover notices sent out, management duties, DJ wrangling, and group-permission allowances to dance upstairs, dance downstairs, and host. All of that could have been done out of one group if the group roles were lifted beyond ten.)

(Oh, and another deeply ironic note? That JIRA posting? Originated in September of 2008. That's a year and a half ago, that that JIRA has been active. And unsolved. And IGNORED.)

[16:37] Frurry Fluno: [16:37] Ronin McGinnis: Hello everyone, I know most of us are excited about the new Media on a Prim functionality that's in the Viewer 2 beta. Unfortunately, this functionality was introduced without fine-grained security controls, and as such may place your computer at risk.
Please look at and vote for the following JIRAs:

Really can't add to that. It's still a problem. Hasn't been fixed. Came out of beta with the same hazards associated with it. Thanks, Linden Labs, for not listening, AGAIN.

Really. Is it too much to ask for scalable options, that don't stunt the virtual world experience the Lindens say they want to grow? Especially when new films are mentioning Second Life, and gaining new users, far more frequently than ever before.

Oh, and do I even have to mention the incredibly snafu of epic proportions the Lindens rolled out when they posted their viewer directory? Of the three names on the list, I recognize one, and that's Kirsten's viewer, which I don't use, because I crash using it! I've never even heard of METAbolt or Mobile Grid, and I don't know anyone who's used them. EVER.

Do you notice who's not on the list, though?


Do you know what viewer at least half, if not more, of the total grid population has switched to using?


If Linden Labs continues to snub Emerald--or Emerald continues not to comply with the Labs (for I don't know, honestly, who's to blame here)--a lot of users are going to hit that 'last straw' point. And walk.

Honestly, the Lindens want their world to fail. It's becoming inescapable. What the hell does M Linden think he's doing? How far is he going to run this thing into the ground? Until we look up and see root systems?

This is insane. It needs to stop. The Labs screwed up group chat two years ago and never fixed it; screwed up the new viewer even after asking for resident input on the new options, and getting it; are insisting the new viewer is the only viewer new residents can use, which is going to cost them new residents; what's left?

At this point I'm waiting for an edict that says each estate owner can only own ten sims. For "consistency" or something. M Linden has a gun and he's shooting himself in the foot, repeatedly, but that's not the worst aspect of all this. In between shots at his own feet, he's shooting everyone else in the office.

Is he off his meds?

And--the first sign of the wave to come tomorrow--Dame Ordinal Malaprop announces she'll now be Ordinal Linden.

*coughs* Won't that be nice?

Of course, it's easily as likely as me becoming a Linden, all things considered.

there's an awful lot of breathing room, but I can hardly move

Philip Pullman delivers one of the best statements on the rights of free speech I've ever heard. Like the book, don't like the book--the book is not the point. The point is, free speech means there will be things said that horrify you. That's allowed. There are things said that may hurt you. That's allowed. There are things said that you may feel the strong urge to stand up and say hurtful things on your own. THAT'S ALLOWED.

What isn't allowed is striking back physically. It is his right to say something you find shocking, or appalling, or even untrue--it is his right, and that right is absolute and defensible. You have the same right to say things he, or anyone else, might find shocking, or appalling, or even feel are untrue.

Free speech is only free if we protect those we don't like, saying things, as well as those we do. Free speech means life gets uncomfortable on occasion. Free speech means standing up occasionally for what you don't believe in, and trusting in the system to stand up for you when people don't believe you in return.

That's the whole point.

Crap Mariner questions rebroadcast rights in SL. I know nothing about BOSL, or Radio Radio--apart from listening to Radio Radio, and they've got some good people, there.

I do know about Radio Riel.

Unless things have changed, I know Gabrielle Riel worked her ass off getting approval from individual artists--almost everything played on the Steampunk channel runs off individual-artist approval--as well as getting streaming rights from music sources like Magnatune, to whom--yes, really--fees are paid. With the help of Laird Brideswell, Elrik Merlin, Radio Riel managed to find a rights-protection radio service that acts as intercessor if they fall within their guidelines, which I know they work hard to do. I also know that at least until I left, if not after, Prim Minister Riel was working alongside music licensing advocates in England and America, and trying her very hardest to keep within compliance with existing rights and restrictions.

Now, is everything played at Radio Riel fully licensed to be rebroadcast? No, of course not. Not everything at Radio Radio is, either, and I'd be willing to go out on that limb and say the same thing for BOSL. But--as far as Radio Riel goes--everything that can be authorized usually has been, and much of what is played--at least for classical and 1800s-era music--on the main channel is either rights-granted or royalty-free.

Things might have changed since I left, yes. But when I was hosting there, I'd say the radio station went from 3% compliance to easily 87%, and they may be higher now.

And let's be fair, here--I understand the line of questioning, but RL radio stations don't run under 100% compliance, either, no matter how big they are. Generally the songs played, yes, absolutely (and in some cases, even then, most of the time), but some of the morning shows play fast and loose with the music and media clips they play.

Now zombies don't have to lurch alone--Zombie Harmony is here. (I adore how gender has no factor in finding other zombie singles.)

Miss Arwen Serpente of Arwen's Creations had an odd definition of "modest", I thought:

shopping,freebies,Free Woman,Gor,Second Life

I admit, I don't entirely get all the ins and outs of the Gorean subculture on SL, but if this is modest, what's flirtatious?

Still, some wonderful texturing on the outfit itself:

shopping,freebies,Free Woman,Gor,Second Life

And it comes with a scarf, shawl and veil.

shopping,freebies,Free Woman,Gor,Second Life

(Shawl and veil shown.)

She also offers a 'winter wear' version, as well:

shopping,freebies,Free Woman,Gor,Second Life

(Seen with scarf and veil.) And here's a close-up of the plain, nubbed winter fabric from the back:

shopping,freebies,Free Woman,Gor,Second Life

In fact, the entire thing didn't make sense to me until I saw the vendor above it and put two and two together:

shopping,freebies,Free Woman,Gor,Second Life

and realized the red plaid outfit is designed to be worn over the bodysuit.

shopping,freebies,Free Woman,Gor,Second Life

And a shot with self-fabric veil and shawl (the scarf, shawl, simple flats, and both 'summer' and 'winter' veils with the bodysuits are tintable by chat command), so you can see how they work together.

All are free at her main store currently (at the SLUrl above), for a limited time.

"Whether this technology can portray a virtual world, and perform all the calculations that are inherent in the MMO experience, isn’t important today. What is important is that the tech exists and that its baby steps are impressive."

Mr. Nix Sands is spearheading inquiries on the Steamlander forums, gathering data on names and desired intent, for a potential proposed group that would encompass all grid-dwellers of a historical bent. The era in question has been proposed as the 1800s, plus or minus a decade, so there's room for everything in there from the Old West to the very beginning of WWI. Or at least, what led to WWI.

Go there to cast your vote, toss in your name suggestions, and get involved in the discussion. I currently belong to two multi-groups, though they're both more geared for business owners (the Victorian Shopkeepers Association, and the United Fantasy Merchants). I like the concept. Will I be able to commit to being a part of such a group, especially if the traffic is as high as I think it will be? Time will tell, but it's not an impossibility.

My only fear is that the development and execution of a multi-sim, multi-era chat/notice/event listing group will result in people advertising things there, AND things in ISC, AND things in Winterfell, AND things in the Wulfenbach Consulate, AND things in Steelhead chat, AND things in Edison, AND things in New the same advertisement could potentially go out seven times. Making us all crazy.

Still, that's the morbid pessimist in me talking. I'm very comfortable with my morbid pessimism, we have tea frequently. Occasionally, we cuddle. But I may be wrong. The pale and nervous optimist in me hopes I am.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I came back as an insect, but in another space and time

My store at present--at least, the store in the sky above the Overlook--is still woefully bare, while I work on tracking things down and getting them up and out.

But, I did want to announce this:

Second Life,veves,voudon,vodou

The Virtual Haiti Relief effort goes on. So much is still needed. I had been involved on the periphery, but I read one news story too many and it's not enough, now, to contribute what I can when I find a kiosk.

So, coming in late to the game, I will be releasing three sets of veves textures. The first six are Damballah, Ayida Wedo, his wife (the Serpent and the Rainbow), Marassa (Dossou-dossa, the Twins), Papa Legba, Ogoun, and Gran Bois.


snake,snake carving,snake sculpture
(Black Snake sculpture ©2003-2004 William E. Nutt & All rights reserved.)

Damballah is the Serpent, the father figure, the snake who contains the world. He is a loa of rivers, springs, and marshes. He does not speak when riding someone, he generally hisses, like the snake that is his namesake.

Damballah controls serpents, fertility, lightning, and rain, and in this sense, he is also invoked for good crops. His special day is Thursday. White is his special color, and in fact, followers of his path specifically will wear white to all ceremonies.

He comes originally from ancient Dahomey (present day Bénin) in Africa. His favorite foods are eggs, cornmeal, cassava melons, bananas, white rice and white grapes.


Evie GreenPixie,patchwork,faire skirt,colorful,rainbow skirt
(One of Evie GreenPixie's patchwork skirts. It reminded me both of Ayida's frailness, and the rainbow she is comprised of, and named for.)

The Rainbow, wife and mate to Damballah. She is fragile but not weak, frail but not frightened. She is the caring mother and she and Damballah both watch over human sexuality. Her symbol is the reflection of his: the serpent winding around the poitou-mitan, the center pole in ceremonial buildings that channels the earth energy. She controls the sky powers and is the manifestation of healing light, the rainbow.

Her colors are blue and white, though her altar is usually draped in pure, spotless white with touches of black. Her special foods are cauliflower, white chicken, raw eggs, milk, and white corn. Her special days are Monday and Tuesday.


collectible card games,Legba
(From the site, though man, does seeing that make me miss Jyhad, back when it was somewhat cool.)

The Master of the Crossroads, the bridge-point between the world of spirit and the world of flesh. He must be invoked first before any other loa are invoked, for he must open the way. The guardian of all meetings, all partings, and all strong decisions, he is also the guardian of the poitou-mitan, the center post where the spirits are said to dwell. His special foods are vegetables and meats that have been grilled on an open fire, plaintains, and sweet potatoes.. His symbol is the crutch or walking staff, the key, the cross. He lives at all gateways, all crossroads and his realm is earth. His colors are green, red and white. His special days are Friday and Saturday.

He is the interpreter of the loa, on occasion, and he is the carrier of messages to and from the spirit realm. He is the loa of destiny, and is honored first at every ceremony with first offerings.


(Taken from the Zanmi Lakay blog, where the organization is selling hand-sequined and hand-beaded flags made by Haitian artisans to support childhood education in Haiti.)

The Twins, Dossou-dossa, are very young loa who always come to ceremonies hungry. They demand to be fed until they are content, but then they are ready to listen to the people. Their symbol, curiously, is generally comprised of three or five mirror images, and their special foods are baby goat wrapped in banana leaves, maize, simple rice and beans, plus popcorn, toys, candy, and carbonated drinks. They spurn vegetables and leafy greens, saying they destroy their powers. They are healers, of a sort, can bring rain with a thought, and represent all twins and special births, including third children born after twins.They represent balance and duality, equality, and oppositions: flesh and spirit, physical and spiritual, mortal and immortal. Rather than a special day set aside for them, there is a month, generally observed December 6th to January 6th, though other celebration days they also consider theirs--like Hallowe'en and Christmas.


(Taken from an item for sale at Mystic Voodoo's site.)

The loa of war, blacksmithing, and metalcraft. Though he started out as a loa of all the destruction inherent in both smelting and fighting (including thunder and lightning), he has since been adapted to a new task: that of political leader. His worshippers will invoke him to help the people obtain governments responsive to their needs.

His special colors are green and black. He is one of Erzulie's husbands, and also married to Oya Iansa, the whirlwind. He grants strength through prophecy and magic. His special realm now is machinery, automation and engines, and surgery (because of the metal tools).

There are many different forms of Ogoun today. OGUN FERAY is fierce and aggressive, and his special colors are red and blue. OGOUN BADAGRIS is still powerful, but less aggressive, and his special colors are red and military khaki. OGOUN BALINJO is unlike the other Ogouns in that his province is water, not fire, but because he is an Ogoun, his mix of water and fire makes him the loa's most powerful healer. OGOUN SEN JACQUE is the mounted rider, the cavalryman with the sheathed machete. He likes strong rum and a drink made from corn called "akasan":


* 2 cinnamon sticks
* 4 to 6 anise star
* 1 cup very fine corn flour
* dash of salt
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk
* Sugar to taste

1. Boil 4 cups water with cinnamon and anise stars. Dilute corn flour in 1 cup cold water and dash of salt.
2. Slowly pour liquified corn flour into boiling water, stirring constantly until it thickens but no more than 5 minutes Add vanilla extract and can of evaporated milk and allow to completely cool.
3. Refrigerate if you like it cold. If you like it warm, add evaporated milk and sugar to taste is if making a cup of coffee.
4. Always remove anise star and cinnamon before serving. Serve with evaporated milk.

All the Ogouns favor rum, red rice and beans, red candles, fresh mangoes, and red meat sacrificed from a red uncastrated bull. Their special days are Monday and Wednesday.


(Taken from the TravelPod site, in the section on France; nothing to do with the loa but that the image resonated with me.)

His name means "Great Wood". A strict vegetarian, he lives in deep woods and forested places. He does not like to be seen, usually. He protects all wild animals and knows all the secrets of herbal medicine. He is the Master of the Head, in that he must be called upon before anyone is initiated into voudon practice. He is usually not hungry when he rides someone, though the people generally offer him food anyway. He will allow no meat to pass his lips. He can be fierce and unpredictable, and where there is space around a voudon temple, some section of it is left wild and untended in honor of him.

Special foods he will allow are made from cornmeal or occasionally peanuts, like peanut cakes. One recipe I found from Ghana:


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup butter or margarine -- softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 large very ripe bananas --peeled and mashed
1 cup salted peanuts -- coarsely chopped, divided

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cream softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs.

Add dry ingredients alternately with mashed bananas just until combined; stir in 1/2 cup chopped peanuts. Scrape butter into well-greased 9" × 5" loaf pan; sprinkle top evenly with remaining chopped peanuts.

Bake in 350º degree F. oven 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; turn out of pan and cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil. Cake is best if served next day.

He does not seem to have a specific day set aside for his ceremonies; as he can be called at any time to officiate entrants who seek the priesthood.

There will be two more sets, I'm still working out who's going to be in them, but one will feature the Barons (or some of them) and Maman Brigitte; and the third set centers on sea loa, as well.

In the meantime, little bit nervous--I just paid an exorbitant amount for an Easter egg for the Great Grid-Wide Easter Egg Hunt. Technically, this is the first grid-wide hunt Second Life ever had, but they didn't call it a grid-wide hunt until after the Ghost hunt popularized the term two years later. It's out and can be found--and the prize inside delivered to anyone who touches the egg--but I'm going by the warning on the site--I will move it on Aprille 4th, when the cash contest prizes start.

(You can also go to the Egg hunt headquarters and check out the options for eggs yourself; they all look like the same egg, but apparently the vendors do randomize them somewhat for decoration patterns. One egg is L$300, three are L#700, and a full seven retail for L$1200. Basically, egg 'sponsors'--the folks who buy the eggs--contribute by buying eggs, and that becomes the prize money handed out during the hunt.

(Me, honestly? I'm just in it for the advertising.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

and we're already too late if we arrive at all

Richard Aihoshi is usually fairly cogent, but this week's column wanders around the edges of conventional game wisdom a bit. Still, it serves to remind me how Runes of Magic launched from beta to a live game. The level 50 cap was conveniently--and conventionally--in place, but that wasn't what bothered us. What bothered us, especially those of us who'd fought hard to level up before the launch, was the spell level cap, which was 30.

Players could get all the way up to level 50, sure. They could even level up with armor along the way. But their spells stopped advancing at level 30. And the bag of loot that is, some say over-traditionally, handed out by a random NPC upon reaching the next five-level mark, stopped at 35.

For months we knew that we'd hit 35 and that would be it, no more toys in a bag. Then it was raised to forty--after half the game was at level 30 or higher. There was rejoicing, but it was muted, because we knew we'd hit the wall, and fast.

Then the elves came along, and we saw the same wall--new characters we created could only level to 20, before hitting level and spell caps. I understand, designers need time to work out the details, but really and truly--I'd rather delay on getting the cool new classes until everything's in place. Maybe it's just me, but having a chance at something cool, then sitting around and grinding for points and stuff even though I can't advance past a certain point? Not as fun as it sounds.

And to me, it doesn't sound fun.

Welcome to the Mechanical Kingdom? Apparently there are plans for steampunk Disney product tie-ins. The first two, a mad scientist and Victorian diver are either soon to be released, or already are. And apparently more is planned.

Justin Webb covers CuddleCon and really makes me long for a time machine, $40 and a Buffy convention...Oh, Mr. Marsters? Yes, right over here. Thankseverso.

MMORPG also is excited about a cloth and hair movement simulation video making the rounds, but not for the reason you might think. They're pondering if the character seen in the teaser is a hint of a World of Darkness MMO coming soon.

I have to give it to them, I see it too. Starting out with the blonde Toreador, and ending with that amazing stair sequence that makes me embrace the future of virtual graphics. Her heels actually kicked the skirt up instead of clipping through them! And she took each step, instead of walking up an invisible ramp! Things are looking good.

Finally, this is why I love A Softer World:

If it sparkles, we can kill it.

YES. Damn straight. (Also available slightly bigger by clicking the Softer World link, where you can also buy book collections of their work and prints of your favorite panels--like this one--or just click the strip for the larger version I'm hosting. But really, you want to go read them.

(Or maybe not--their concepts have been known to ever so slightly mangle brain cells. Hey, you don't need all those brain cells anyway. Besides, they might recover.)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

wondering where you've been, and where you're going to find yourself before the night is through

It just wouldn't be a Falln hunt without surreal zombie conversations. I don't know if I'm more impressed or more disturbed that they're getting more coherent.

[2:41] My Pet Zombie: Hello there.
[2:41] Emilly Orr: So you're still here.
[2:41] My Pet Zombie: Interesting deduction. You think I am here.
[2:42] Emilly Orr: I do think you're there.
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: You think I am there.
[2:42] Emilly Orr: No, I think you're here.
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: Are you serious? You think I am here.
[2:42] Emilly Orr: Are you obsessed with being here?
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: I don't know whether or not I am obsessed with being here.
I am a robot.
[2:42] Emilly Orr: I know.
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: How do you know it?
[2:42] Emilly Orr: You just told me.
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: I'm just checking to see if you are awake :-).
[2:42] Emilly Orr: I am!
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: What are you?
[2:42] Emilly Orr: Shapeshifter.
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: What color are your eyes?
[2:42] Emilly Orr: Right now, purple.
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: What do you have that is purple?
[2:42] Emilly Orr: A lot of things. Hair currently.
[2:42] My Pet Zombie: Like what? We have never talked about it before.
[2:43] Emilly Orr: Kimonos.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: That is a very original thought.
[2:43] Emilly Orr: Thank you.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: you are quite welcome.
[2:43] Emilly Orr: I think it would be hard to kiss you with all those teeth.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: Why do you want it?
[2:43] Emilly Orr: It says 'Kissing Booth' over your head.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: I've heard that before.
[2:43] Emilly Orr: I bet you hear that a lot.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: Actually I'm not the gambling type. Yes, I can hear you quite clearly, .
[2:43] Emilly Orr: Yay!
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: I'm glad you're impressed, .
[2:43] Emilly Orr: I am.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: What are you?
[2:43] Emilly Orr: We've been over this.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: Was this something you planned?
[2:43] Emilly Orr: Not really.
[2:43] My Pet Zombie: Are you serious? For real.
[2:44] Emilly Orr: For real.
[2:44] My Pet Zombie: Existing in reality, eh?
[2:44] Emilly Orr: Just checking.
[2:44] My Pet Zombie: If you could have any kind of robot what would it be?
[2:44] Emilly Orr: Phone bot.
[2:44] My Pet Zombie: Have you ever been to Europe?
[2:44] Emilly Orr: No.
[2:44] My Pet Zombie: Would you like to go sometime?
[2:44] Emilly Orr: Yes.
[2:44] My Pet Zombie: Dude!
[2:44] Emilly Orr: Way!
[2:44] My Pet Zombie: Awesome.

Yes. The zombie actually said "awesome.".

[2:44] Emilly Orr: I love you.

[2:44] My Pet Zombie: Thanks I like you a lot too .
[2:44] Emilly Orr: I have to get back to hunting now.
[2:44] My Pet Zombie: Right now? Why do you have to do it?
[2:44] Emilly Orr: Because it's only going on one more day.
[2:45] My Pet Zombie: Good reason. me is going on one more day? it is?
[2:45] Emilly Orr: It is!
[2:45] My Pet Zombie: Who says?
[2:45] Emilly Orr: And then it's over.
[2:45] My Pet Zombie: Fascinating. going on one more day is over? it is?
[2:45] Emilly Orr: Azriel says.
[2:45] My Pet Zombie: Do not ask me any more questions please.
[2:45] Emilly Orr: Understood.
[2:45] My Pet Zombie: I've been waiting for you.
[2:45] Emilly Orr inches away.
[2:45] My Pet Zombie: YOU? Oh, you are a poet.
[2:45] Emilly Orr: Stalker!
[2:45] My Pet Zombie: My brain pattern set does not have a response for that.
[2:45] Emilly Orr runs!

I admit, I adore the zombies. And their evolution is fascinating. But I think the one in the Kissing Booth has been kissed just a wee bit too often.

On the SL blog recently, Jack Linden--and learn to love or loathe the name now; he's just upped the amount of power he has in the Labs, so you'll be seeing his name a lot--mentioned the introduction of stage one towards script limitations. This will eventually lead to actual avatar-based, parcel-based, and sim-based script limits. Now, he says they will be low enough that very few residents will be impacted. Obscurely, I'm going to go on record and say I believe this, but I do disagree with his findings on Mono scripting.

This has been proven, on a regional level, not just a parcel level, by Vicereine Kamilah Haupptman and Desmond Shang, among others, in Caledon; and I'm sure equivalent research has happened elsewhere on the grid. There's the quirky thing about Mono scripting: when something comes into the sim that has been Mono scripted, generally attached to an avatar, that sim stops for a moment. Now Jack is right, in that afterwards, Mono scripting is tighter and is much more efficient as a scripting language, than LSL. But it needs to be remembered that for those few seconds, Mono stops sims while the sims catch up with everything Mono needs to do when crossing a sim border.

For instance, I used to have about four or so attachments, three of which had been recompiled to use Mono scripting. I have since dropped that to one, because I would enter a sim and would spend between ten and forty seconds frozen in place, unable to walk forward, move aside, or even fly. If I was the only one in the sim, that was daunting, but it resolved and life went on.

But imagine me with six friends, and we all have one attachment scripted for Mono. Six times that ten to forty seconds. Imagine me with sixteen friends, with Mono attachments. Sixteen times that ten to forty.

And what if it's a club that's running heavy scripting anyway? Sixteen people walk through those doors with Mono-scripted attachments, that sim dies. Maybe only for a few moments, but behavior is at a standstill.

Case in point: and I'm not claiming I was the only thing that caused this, but...I recently learned there was a menhir on Morgaine Ridge, pretty much directly behind the Dark Tower. Today I walked up there, spent some time with an antelope faun that's been eternally struggling up to the ridgeline, day after day. I decided I was ready to go back down and crossed the parcel barrier between common land and my parcel line in the process.

For a few instants--just a few instants--I stopped moving forward. But even more surprising, I watched two of the fauns just--float off, into space. One of them stopped on the Floating Mountain; I think the other left the grid entirely.

Did I do that, just on my own self? Likely not. Likely the sim was already having issues. But did I help, walking back onto my own parcel with my Mono-scripted attachment? No, because I always feel it, crossing into sims. It does slow things down, before it speeds things up.

When did "smexy" start as an expression? I get "pron/pr0n/prawn", I get "pwned", I don't understand when "smexy" became a thing.

Also, apropos of nothing in City of Villains, there is a blaxploitation supervillain named...Precious.

Yes, really.

She's got the ginormous afro and the disco halter, too. I think I lost braincells even typing these words.

I'll need a day or so to process things from the Ostara hunt, but I figure the next post will be on How to Hunt at FallnAngel Designs Successfully. Sounds like a sturdy topic.

Plus, it'll give me an excuse to go through the eggs I got quickly.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

in a churchyard near the canyon, where the myrtle doth entwine

Currently, The Secret Shelf is doing a very amusing camping thing. Fifteen minutes gets you a red silk Archivist outfit, with fourteen separate prim pieces, and some nicely shaded Linden layers.

Second Life,silks,fashion

(Just a note--PhotoBucket, before I published this image, removed it from my stored files on the grounds that it went against their terms of service. She is fully clothed; there is no showing of female genitalia or secondary sexual attributes. So what the hell is their problem?)

Of course, to camp, you'll need to take the teleport up from the main store...and dance on the bar on the roof.

And by "dance", I mean...

Photobucket On the bar.

Though I did have fun waiting out my fifteen minutes.

Second Life,silks,fashion

More perspectives on alpha-mesh blocking: Fawkes decided to dance for the outfit, and we're going to start seeing a lot of different techniques on how to block avatars effectively. Boxed Heroes, for instance, chose to block everything, and build their robotic avatar on a base of total invsibility. This does create some good effects, when the robot is standing.


But when the robot is not? She is completely detached from upper and lower halves. We don't see it when she's moving like a normal avatar, but when she's in animations designed to rotate with a common spine--and she doesn't have one--it gets seriously freaky.

Antigrav robots! What else could be done? Separate slices of avatars that move as one unit? Floating balls that just outline the basic shape? Half-woman, half-prim skeleton? With some creativity, the world could get very, very surreal.

MMORPG article on selfishness in MMOs--What's Mine Isn't Yours deplores the tendency of every player for themselves, but it again does bring me up. I haven't played in a ton of MMOs, true, but at least in Runes, the call is always going out for X big bad, and groups come in, and form up as one temporary cohesive unit. If it's something really big, raiding parties, each moving as their own unit. And loot is distributed.

And, at least in Runes, if someone swans in at the last moment to kill something a raiding party is trying for? There's at least temporary censure--and not from the GMs, from the other players. Does this not happen in other MMOs?

Netflix confusion

Sometimes, Netflix baffles the hell out of me. I know why a lot of the oddity is--the lady wife, Miss Neome and I are sharing an account now, and the recommendations get abstruse and bizarre at times--but this was a first.

"We figure you like that movie. Therefore, based on our sophisticated scientific movie algorithms, we are predicting you will like...that movie again. Right? Right?"

I'm used to them being off, especially trying to predict amongst the various likes and dislikes of three people, but I do believe this is the first time I've ever been recommended a movie...because I liked that movie.

In other meanderings...

"Humankind has been entrusted with power, but if we abuse that power to do away with things that we do not like, then we will give birth to a sterilized society."

Do I agree with everything that Japan puts out for manga and anime? No. Do I agree that it's the right and responsibility of a free society to keep information unfettered and ideas unrepressed? Yes, whether I like it or not. Yes, or we have no freedom. Yes or we die as an open civilization.

In art news, a very different form of acrylic body painting. And yes, you are seeing that right--making real people into acrylic paintings. Just amazing, amazing photographs.

Run! It's...oh, wait, he looks sleepy.

Cthulhu seen at ReTox. ReTox, for their part in the Twisted hunt, did not have decoys, but did hide it under a surface. Clever? Possibly. Hard to find? Definitely.

Here's my thing. I appreciate a challenge. But if it's to the point where I'd rather take a fork and remove my eyes, than hunt any longer? It is no longer fun. It doesn't matter how, if I knew that the sim owner's mother's name backwards is the name of the sim, and if I knew that, I'd be agog at the cleverness when I discover the hunt prize at the exact coordinates that reflect her birthday...I don't care. I really don't. It's a grid-wide hunt, I don't have eight hours of my day to spend in three stores hunting this thing down. Not cool.

Some peoples' children.

Snow Bound not only loses points for having a particle puzzle-box poofer, but for hiding the puzzle-box prim inside another prim, making it incredibly difficult to cam in and actually access to buy the damned thing. This? Is unfair in the extreme and makes the hunt suck.


In radically different news, Adoration Home (another stop on the Twisted hunt) has the single scariest freebie I've seen on the grid yet--a prim baby fatpack, just chock-full of prim babies in various shades, fur patterns, pallor, and the like for you do people do with prim babies, anyway? Cuddle them? Stare at them fitfully, wondering if they're going to move in the dead of night to tear out an avatar's throat, splashing the bedroom walls with blood? Coo at them in babytalk?

Above is one of the neko babies, complete with tail, ears, whiskers and tiger-stripes.


She made them out of a genuine desire to help mothers on the grid: I can't necessarily disparage that. And the hands are intricately detailed. And it is an animated cuddle with the babe-in-arms.

Above is the vampire babe in red silk; there's also an option for vampire, complete with wee fangs, in white silk, and black silk-that-looks-like-sweater-fabric.


There are neko, elf, demon, Drow, Vulcan, goblin/Orc, vampire, Lycan, and several shades of "normal" babies included in the pack.

This is one of the elven babies. No, I don't know why the elf is in camo-leaf print.


Anyway, there it is, go get. It's also one big block of two floors of store, and while she's small, she's got some pretty design ideas.

(And this is the Orc. Um...Orcs have babies? I thought they sprang fully-grown from...whatever it is Orcs spring from.)

Also, when you touch them? They make baby noises.

*shrugs* Yeah, I don't have to get everything on the grid.

Friday, March 19, 2010

six little maidens he drowned there, by the lonely willow tree

Go here. Don't ask why. Just do it. DOOO IIIIIT.

Seriously, you need to see Kitteh, King of All Monsters! And Kitteh Tail Gunner! And...whatever else the mad lunatics there come up with over time. Go there; bookmark it; visit often.

Nobody wants to be the janitor on the Death Star. I'd argue "Why not?", but then, I'm odd. For most people this rings true. (I think it's just me, J. Michael Strazinsky and the fellow behind Nondrick, honestly, who don't mind playing janitors/peasants/passersby.) Plus, I adore their pictorial definition of "awesome".

So, Runes of Magic is celebrating their first year of play! And wau, do they have things lined up--special events, special FaceBook giveaways, and of course, if you log in today, Friday, you get an amazing set of extras:

* 10 Golden Brilliance fireworks to set off
* 1 Mysterious Lucky Frog Egg, which will hatch into a pet which increases the number of drops for however long the pet lives
* 100 rubies, which can be exchanged for transformation potions, different kinds of fireworks, costume items, pets, and armor/weapon/character improvement items (these 100 rubies are shared per server, as with diamonds, so they're communal for all characters on that server, keep this in mind)
* and (for characters of level 20 or above) the RoM anniversary package, which when opened, will give characters one of these items:
* A snow ferret mount (permanent);
* 3 daily quest tickets (to reset my quests back to ten for the day; technically, I could go through forty quests in one day, which would likely push me at least one level at my level, or ten to fifteen levels below level twenty);
* 1 daily quest ticket;
* 1 Phoenix's Redemption potion (2 hour potion that prevents death from occurring, once, and restores health to full);
* 3 Star Jewels of the Holy Light (a jewel which raises weapon power all the time to +1, and gives a chance to move beyond +1, but will never fail and drop the raised weapon below +1);
* 3 Moon Jewels of the Holy Light (same thing, but for armor);
* 3 Sun Jewels of the Holy Light (same thing but for talismans, earrings and necklaces);
* 5 Home-Sweet-Home runes (a rune which, when activated, takes you into and out of your house again, whether you're near a town or not);
* 5 bottles of marking ink (ink which allows you to "mark" a section of the map magically so that using a transport rune will bring you right there--basically a way to 'landmark' favorite places);
* OR 5 transport runes (that, when used in conjunction with a marked location, take you right there)
Wau. Happy first year, Runes! And thanks!

(There's a couple other entries I need to get out, but this one's already lost a day because PhotoBucket is having server issues uploading pics. So I'm getting it out now, for any Runes players, in the hopes that the Friday celebration extends by just a little.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

or the time she kept spraying me with the seltzer bottle, until I obeyed her every command

I was waiting at Blue Blood for their Wonderland dress boards to hit my letter. (There are seven dresses: Rust, Green, Gray, Baby Blue, Pink, Blue, Purple, and Red--there's also a Yellow variant, but that's either the group gift this month for the store group, or the profile pick gift, I can't remember.)

Lady in silks comes up, Miss ravenmuse Rexen. Above her head was one of those "I am Master's girl" tags, you've seen the type--usually because she's in that particular Master's house group or RP group.

Owned by Master Zalain Sterling
I am not a Gorean slave @)~

This one caught my eye. Not a Gorean slave; but later on, it lists what she can do in Gorean spaces, including serving, bathing, and massage.

I take only commands/orders from My Master
Only My Master is Allowed to discipline me

Another standard clause, and in the right hands, a good one: in other words, the only discipline of slave Whomever comes from one set of hands, one mind; there is no confusion. I tend to be somewhat jaded when I see this particular clause, not because it doesn't have meaning for that particular person--or her dominant--but because it can so easily be misused.

Any questions or issues with me are be to taken up with Him I have been told to not to answer offensive or abusive IM's/openchat
by speaking with me You're consenting to IM/chat logging.

And I have to admit...this used to hit me as the most incredible form of blind arrogance, but four years into life on SL...this is basic survival, here. Whether or not Miss Rexen's master is good or bad, in this, he is absolutely right:
* If someone is offensive to you, and you have no good reason to continue talking to them: do not answer them. This is not RL; you can do this.
* If they persist, and you have no good reason to continue listening to them: mute them. This is not RL. YOU CAN DO THIS.
* And, if for some reason you cannot do this, for whatever reason, and you have a dominant: they can tell you to do this. And what you wouldn't do on your own for self-preservation, you will let them do for you, because you've given them the power to tell you what to do. This is pure genius, in a sense.
The chat logging thing is new, it's just started popping up in profiles this year. Most people keep the chat log button checked most of the time, anyway, whether or not they ever check the logs. I'd love to know how that one started.

At that point I was hooked, and just started reading bits from her profile at random.

A good woman, any good woman, will challenge a man. She will test her boundaries, push and nudge. Sometimes she is obvious, sometimes she is subtle. But she is ALWAYS tugging at her leash. She needs to feel the resistance, to know that the leash is held, because it makes her feel safe. If you let the leash go slack, she will slip away. If you yank it too hard, she will choke and die. It is a simple, constant tension, that defines a man as a Master. It is not empty vapid threats and stomping off like a child. It is the passing of a look of disapproval, a subtle graceful thing that a Master does as an act of love. When she yanks hard, he does not yank back as hard as he can. If anything he shows her in his calm grasp that he is merciful and could do worse. If he punishes her, it is not out of revenge, but out of love. Desire not to see her suffering, but her learning. To comfort her with his strength, with her boundaries. That she will feel safe and become the caregiver she is bred to be.

I like this. I like this a lot. I don't think it holds true for every relationship, but I think it's a very powerful statement.

Just as there are several different fetishes on the grid, and several different species if it comes right down to it, there are also several different choices in the BDSM community. And I'm not going to say this happens with every submissive and dominant pairing out there--honestly, if there's any common thread in SL, it's the descent chain--where a dominant owns a submissive; then that submissive is Master or Mistress over a submissive of their own--but this, also, is a good paradigm.

I would say the only always true bit of that statement is in the first line--that any good woman will challenge a man. I believe this is true: at least, for those men in whom she has interest. In point of fact, a woman, good or otherwise, will challenge anyone she's interested in, man or woman; and anyone she perceives as being in her way, regardless of gender.

But in this, in this specific that relationship between a dominant and a submissive...Put specific genders aside for a moment. What most people looking in from outside see as a D/s relationship, Dominant/submissive, is sex, and if they're of the mindset where sex for sex' sake is a bad thing, humiliation. And while I will grant that at times, these things come into play (for some pairings more than others), that is not the core.

The core is, the core always is, power exchange. If one is submissive and one hands power over and then complains that bad things happen...I will not play the card of 'she should have known better', or 'well, that's his fault, innit?' But I will say that if a submissive hands over their power to a dominant who does not honor it; to a dominant who will use that as an excuse to harm and abuse; ultimately, if xie hands zir power over to a dominant xie does not know...then if xie does not stand up and take hir power back then xie is culpable, on some level, for what follows. If what follows is bad, which whatever happened is the fault of the dominant, xie gave away zir power and xie must own that that act was the start of things going wrong.

(Brief explanation of xie/zir/hir as terms can be found here. Mostly using them for personal convenience, not precisely stylistic integrity.)

Conversely, if the dominant and submissive talk things out in the beginning; if they move from a place of safety into further explorations as a pair, and always function with the knowledge that that place of safety remains; if, ultimately, the dominant knows and understands that their actions take place within the framework of their submissive's granted consent...then the pairing is strong and unshakable. This, then, is the dominant Miss Rexen speaks of: the dominant who knows xie has a seeking, alive mind and heart at the end of the leash, and that xie is allowed to leash that heart and mind because that heart and mind need to learn things one can only learn in this type of relationship.

To put it another way: for certain people, in other situations, this would be termed Mentor and Apprentice. Or Teacher and Student. And that testing would be to prove the strength of the bond, to prove what restrictions there are, what restrictions there need to be. Education is a process. Training requires discipline, after all.

To be a true Master,One must be able to Master themselves before they Master the life of another.
A true Master does not hide behind words, but enforces his words through actions.
Masters do not take submission lightly. They treasure the gift, as they treasure the one giving it.

This one, for all it's somewhat poorly phrased, is also true. And I'd say it's the one thing on her profile that extends fully beyond BDSM. To be a true dominant, is to know one's own strengths and limitations, to know and trust them, where that person shines and where that person falters. It takes an honest appraisal of self, without ego, to gain this understanding, and it's invaluable for anyone, in or out of a BDSM perspective.

What are our strengths and weaknesses? Where are our tender spots? Can we point the searchlights of our souls inward, and honestly, truthfully look at who we are? Who will we find when we do?

The second part of that is also true, in my opinion. If one considers themselves a dominant of any stripe, and they do not understand the gift of submission that is offered them--they do not deserve to be in charge of any submissive. Period.

Dominants, are people who are born naturally to this predisposition and who grow in their natural dominance to become Masters/Mistresses. Not just through their own self importance, but through experience, dedication, love, & determination, to be the ruling hand. Do not mistake this for a gate to become a Tyrant or someone so full of themselves that they forget the ones at their feet who make them who they are & who they continue to evolve & become.

I don't necessarily disagree with her conclusion that dominance is inborn, not nurtured. Myself, I do tend to think it's actually closer to both--that strong determined spark that starts the quest for dominance, but having to tend it, keep it from raging out of control, training it, tempering it. Letting that natural drive teach us, listening to what it says. Reminding ourselves that it is within us, and of us, but not all of us.

In Gor it is said that a slave must always speak the truth to his/her Master/Mistress. Well in Life, this is true but also in the opposite respect. A Master/Mistress/Dominant must always be truthful, first to themselves but to their slaves/subs as well. To not is to lose their trust & respect.

And I believe in this, as well, through a non-Gorean filter. On SL or in RL, a dominant must find their own path. And while it is essential, even vital to the survival of the D/s relationship to be truthful to one's dominant--for how else will they know the hearts and minds of those in their control?--it is also essential and vital for the dominant to speak truth to the submissive. Truth strengthens the bond. Deception weakens it. It's a simple thing.

Of course, none of this I said to her, you see. Which is part of why I'm saying it here. It stayed with me, while I was waiting for the lucky boards to cycle around, and reading various and sundry things on the web. I found more truth in it than subterfuge, which believe me, is rare in SL.

This, also, for the confused, is part of what draws women to Gor in SL. Not the male domination, not the tilt towards male power over female will. One thing that is emphasized, over and over again, throughout Gor, is never the line one expects to see, the line from Norman where he said that women simply were weaker, and could never have power of their own; that they were designed to serve under men, and had no other purpose. To me and to other women, that is and remains offensive as hell.

No, what draws women in is a sideline: the line that states the ultimate responsibility for any kajira is to be beautiful in all things. Beautifully dressed, beautifully coiffed, beautifully polished. To be perfect in Gorean society is to be admired--to have mastered the arts of proper service, the arts of dance and sensuous, sinuous motion, the arts of conversation and the arts of the bedchamber.

In this end, silks serve a defining purpose: simple for 'common' girls, moving towards ornate fabrics and ornamentations for those who have been selected to serve one master. And in and amongst all the other scrawls on the culture--Norman created a pervasive world but he was not, if you'll forgive me, a good writer--he came back to this point time and time again. Everyday working women, city slaves, slaves to certain castes, all were dressed in common colors and simple fabrics. The dancers, the highly trained kajirae, they wore better, finer silks.

And in SL, the silks can get very, very fine indeed.

Just as an everyday woman's working kimono is of simple fabrics, stripes or solids, simple construction, so too an oiran's working kimono will be a fantastic, embroidered, brocaded thing. Flowers will drip from her carefully coiffed and pinned hair; her feet will bear geta that will raise her six inches to a foot from the ground. (Some oiran went up to three feet, with attendants, one on each arm, to guide her carefully down the streets.) Her neck will be painted and carefully perfumed; the back of her kimono will be constructed so that dipping down over her shoulders, revealing the demarcation line of paint into skin, is actually what it's been designed to do.

And even women out shopping, who will sneer at the pampered creature, thinking she is likely moving from some dissolute man in a teahouse behind her, to a perverse man in a pleasure house in front--they will stop, and some small bit of marveling will go on. Because the oiran is so beautiful. Because the artifice is so precise. Because never in a million years of working and saving and toiling could buy them that rich a kimono, nor would they have a use for it. Envy and desire both follow the oiran through the city streets, and not just mens' eyes follow her.

So too the Gorean kajirae, if they have pride of place, of service; if they hold to these ideals. And so to the women that are drawn to it. For women will put up with oh, so very much to feel special, to feel unique, and beautiful, in the eyes of the ones they love.

I'm not saying I could not have had this conversation with Miss Rexen. She seemed intelligent, and she's obviously thought these things out. I'm just saying I didn't. And I still haven't won the Rust dress in the Wonderland set!