Saturday, December 31, 2011

got a glitter drop of fall and I'm on my knees

[Help] Far Shadow: If [your] explore/history plaque hunting, use the instructions and maps on Paragon Wiki, it's not too hard if you're full of smarticles
[Help] Falling Barometer: smarticles is officially an awesome word. I award you one internet, which comes with a dozen cookies of your choice, as long as your choice is oatmeal raisin.

So there's a lovely little round-up of the plain differences between SOPA and PIPA, but more specifically, how SOPA would affect us all (post-passage, assuming that it does pass in the US), over on CNet. I highly recommend everyone interested to read through it; it condenses the issue down to good, solid talking points, and eases understanding of what is a staggeringly overwritten, yet surprisingly vague, prohibitionary bill.

Once upon a time...Wau. That's kind of scary. I've known about the poor ladies in the radium factory for years now, but this apparently is the male version. So...if teeth loosen, and bones weaken, and tumors develop, just from licking brushes dipped into radium paint...what would happen if you had sex with radium condoms?

Actually, don't answer that. I truly don't want to know.

The next bit is going to wander slightly. So, I've been engaged for some time following the exploits of the Women Fighters in Reasonable Clothes Tumblr. Some of what they post is clearly fan art; some's not, and is actually taken from published works, art books, movies, what-have-you, and it's all thrown in this melting pot of mixed genre armors--not what ultimately would work best, but whatever--as armor--would actually work, as opposed to best display more bits of skin than any fighter would, ordinarily.

The topic came up again recently when friends of mine tossed me this link, which eventually leads back to another Tumblr blog, namely the Tumblr of Grace Duval, a fashion designer and designer of wearable art, who was absolutely blown away when Jezebel liked the pictures posted enough for a feature.

But that brought me back to thinking about armor designed for females, and the very next day I found this link, written by a maker of armor, who points out both the ridiculousness and the utility of armor as worn by females. (And I still think the best example is the Gothic plate designed for Elizabeth's character from the film of the same name.)

Just to reach from there a moment, it's not just female characters in armor who are given this treatment. Sometimes women in uniform get the same treatment. That's ridiculous as a working uniform for any gender, unless part of your job involves constant breast-feeding. Come on now.

But I'm still thinking on the topic. Why is this the male armor upgrade for Dynasty Warriors 6, and this the female armor? Or what about Wolfenpride's response in a forum on the same topic? I mean, while I get what what he was saying, does it unnerve anyone else that his first response to the sight of figure-revealing armor is murderous necrophilia? Or is it just me?

And it's not like this is just in one game, or even one game genre; it's broadband and wide-spread.

Fantasy, science fiction, it doesn't seem to matter, it's all the same thing. Even in areas where one wouldn't think it would naturally crop up--for example, the Gunslinger add-on for City of Heroes.

The guys? Got the full-on Wild West treatment: specialty guns, chaps, a rather jaunty top hat, vest, a bolo tie. It's a nice outfit. The duster, especially, was very well done.

But the girls? Got the bar wench. Not even kidding. And there's zero attempt to hide it--if you play a female character, you get ruffles, corsets, and thigh-high boots with spurs. You might as well put out a sign asking for ten bits an hour.

Normally, I won't lie, I'm all for cheesecake in games, but I want it to have some relevance to armor, rather than just being made of metal. (Which most of it isn't anyway, so what the hell?)

(from the random album)

Because seriously. This isn't armor. This is a chick in lingerie--partial lingerie, at that!--with a bow. There's nothing in anything she's wearing that would protect her from a slightly incompetent rodent with a toothpick. Let alone big guys with guns.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

it's bound for the graveyard cart

Later the next day...Yes. This is more oddity from City of Heroes' Help channel...This all started over a very simple question, namely, this one:

[Help] Dark Thorn Oppressor: is there a way to rename a character?

That's clear, right? Simple, to the point, asking--on the global Help channel, sure, but at least it is a question...if there's a way to rename a character, once made. And the answers--at least to start--were also simple:

[Help] Agent Vangier: Buy a rename token. 800 points.
[Help] Anti Light: buy a rename token
[Help] DJ P0N-3: Yep, you can buy character rename tokens in the store.
[Help] Blackbird.: If you have $10, sure
[Help] Dark Thorn Oppressor: or wait a couple months then buy one
[Help] Anti Light: Or if you want to be sneaky about it, if you are VIP and have saved up some transfer tokens, transfer to another server, make a new alt there with the same name, transfer back, presto, name change

And thus were the seeds of disagreement planted. And boy, did they sprout in fertile ground.

[Help] Blackbird.: Yeah Anti, but that's technically an exploit.
[Help] Anti Light: No, it's not.
[Help] Blackbird.: You're abusing game mechanics for an unintended benefit.
[Help] Blackbird.: that's exploiting.
[Help] DJ P0N-3: If it were considered a sploit, it would have been plugged after the first free transfer weekend. It wasn't, therefore it isn't.
[Help] Blackbird.: It can't be plugged.
[Help] Lovely Lara Lava: If it was considered an exploit, the moon would have exploded. It wasnt, therefore false logic is bad.

Here we see the beginnings of the logic machine grinding to a halt. First, they charge for both server transfers and name changes, but if you're a subscriber to City of Heroes--a VIP--you can do this, and it's not exploitative.

More accurately, it's more of a hassle to do it (at least properly) without paying the fee to the Paragon store; because...well, this is involved, but the simplest breakdown is if you transfer a character back with the same name as an original character, to the same server, you don't end up with a name change, you end up with two characters with the same name, and that's just not going to work unless you have the character slots open and active for it. (If you do, then at that point, one of those characters will be granted a free rename, so it works out.)

However, the disagreement was escalating.

[Help] DJ P0N-3: Did the devs ever speak out against it? If so, where?
[Help] Stainless Steele: Mild exploit at most. It still requires you to sacrifice something. just maybe not as valuable a something as real cash..
[Help] Lovely Lara Lava: The evidence is inconclusive as it whether it is or isnt. Cant say either way.
[Help] Blackbird.: In technical terms, it is an exploit. You are utilizing game mechanics in a manner which they are not meant to be, in order to gain a benefit or advantage that you are not supposed to gain from those mechanics.

See, it's not an exploit. If it was, it would be addressed by the developers by now. It's actually a feature, not a bug.

[Help] Volcanohead: the transfer/rename thing is actually endorsed by the devs as a good idea
[Help] Blackbird.: [citation needed]
[Help] DJ P0N-3: Volcano, got a link for that?
[Help] Alliisza: it's not an exploit cuz u have to use up transfers to do it
[Help] Volcanohead: I've read it somewhere on the forums, when I was looking up whether or not it was possible, so no, not atm, but it's there
[Help] Blackbird.: Alli: It's an exploit because it fits the definition of what an exploit is.
[Help] Agent Vangier: Server transfer tokens are 800 points each. A rename token is 800 points. So to do this "exploit" you're burning 1600 points worth of benefits to get 800 points' worth.

Perfectly put.

[Help] Blackbird.: Agent: You get transfers for free with a VIP subscription.
[Help] Anti Light: So for VIPs, it's not an exploit it's a benefit and a feature :)
[Help] Blackbird.: It's an exploit.
[Help] Blackbird.: By factual definition.
[Help] DJ P0N-3: Black... by factual definition, nobody of consequence cares.
[Help] Blackbird.: ...That's the best argument you can come up with? "Nobody cares"?
[Help] Blackbird.: Did you go to the 4chan School of Logic?
[Help] DJ P0N-3: No harm, no foul.

Blackbird--oh, excuse me, Blackbird., because the player wanted a period on the end of their character's name...just wouldn't let it go, however.

[Help] Anti Light: How about this, you write up a nice detailed bug report on the subject and send it to the Dev team and let them handle it. Arguing on help isn't really productive.
[Help] DJ P0N-3: What else you want?
[Help] Blackbird.: Anti Light: It's an exploit that can't be fixed due to the nature of server transfers.
[Help] Anti Light: And I will continue to advocate it's use until such time as there is an official word on it.
[Help] Blackbird.: Okay, so what you're saying is that you advocate the use of exploits to get an advantage in game.
[Help] DJ P0N-3: is a character rename a gameplay advantage?

You know, I was wondering this same thing around this time.

[Help] Ackburn: done it plenty of times as well. Whether it is technically an exploit or not, I seriously doubt the devs care
[Help] Harold Rime: It's not factual definition Blackbird. It is your interpretation of the definition given, which means it is your opinion, not factual.
[Help] Anti Light: No, I'm saying all that I want to say on the subject, simply re-read my previous two statements. And with that, have a nice evening everyone and happy new year!

Anti Light has realized that they were arguing with a brick wall, and made their best effort to back away and get out of the argument. Unfortunately, others were not so bright.

[Help] Blackbird.: Harold: Okay, define 'exploit' for me.
[Help] Blackbird.: No matter your definition of 'exploit', the abuse of server transfers to rename your character is still an exploit.
[Help] Harold Rime: No, I won't. The definition has already been given. Your opinion doesn't mean shit. Neither does mine. The only interpretation that matters is that of the devs.

Intriguingly, the devs are not on the side of the final-stop Blackbird; they've made that quite clear four years ago. In fact, at that time, they said that it could be used. So...the entire argument was pretty damned pointless from the start.

[Help] Blackbird.: Harold: What is your opinion on the definition of the word 'exploit'?
[Help] Ackburn: and once again exploit or not, show me where the devs care that we use 2 transfers to get 1 rename.
[Help] Harold Rime: I already said my opinion or interpretation doesn't matter. Neither does yours, so shut the fuck up about it and report it if you really feel that strongly that it is an exploit.
[Help] Blackbird.: So basically, you know I'm right, so you won't enable me to prove it.

But you're not right.

[Help] Blackbird.: Essentially your logic is "LOL! I CAN WIN IF I DON'T ACTUALLY ARGUE MY POINT!"
[Help] Blackbird.: Nice going there, Harold. :)
[Help] Project 03: can you take the nerd fight to a venue other than /help, please? This channel does have a purpose, and pointless bickering to prove you're more right than someone else isn't it.

Excellent suggestion! ...Pity no one listened.

[Help] Harold Rime: No Blackbird. I am saying it doesn't matter, period. Your opinion and interpretation don't mean jack shit. As I said before, the only interpretation that does matter is that of the devs. If you want to prove your point, report the supposed violation
[Help] Blackbird.: See, your brain and the brain of every other person is wired to win arguments. It's not so much about being -right- as establishing your dominance over someone else. When you lose an argument -- when you don't get to establish that dominance -- youget mad. You try to change the subject.
[Help] Blackbird.: You try to block the enemy's win.

He didn't change the subject. He's explaining to you--rather more politely than I would have done at this time--that your internal definition of "exploit", not matching the devs' definition of "exploit", makes your definition meaningless. As was the entire argument at this point.

[Help] Harold Rime: Who said I changed the subject? You're the one doing that because you know I have a point and don't want to acknowledge it.
[Help] Blackbird.: And when you can't block it? When you're shown in front of everyone that you are wrong? You get real, real mad about it. Go ahead. Keep swearing. Keep claiming "LOL NOBODYS OPINION MATTERS."

Yes,'re not right. Harold's right. Actually, more to the point, there is no right, just what the devs have established. And the devs already established--and remember, this was back in 2007 when they established it--that it's just fine to rename a character this way. They have no problem with it, "Blackbird."--therefore you don't get to have a problem with it, either.

[Help] Riot Hour: Hihi, outside the conversation here. I know trolling can be a -real- blast, but if we could keep it out of global help channel that would be just tops and I'm sure the server would appreciate it.

Another excellent suggestion! Sadly, it was mostly ignored.

[Help] Blackbird.: Keep trying to use my own argument against me. I'm sure it'll work sometime.
[Help] Ravenous Wraith: not a chance, riot. dubstep gets off on this shit.
[Help] Blackbird.: And keep trying to selectively choose what you want to argue against and ignore everything else.
[Help] Ackburn: ah, it is dubstep, that explains it
[Help] Harold Rime: I wasn't trying to use your argument against you. I was simply pointing out that it is stupid to bash your keyboard and cry exploit when the matter is subjective and you do not have any control over a "correct" interpretation.
[Help] Blackbird.: The closest interpretation you can get to 'correct' is the factual definition of the term.
[Help] Harold Rime: Yes, and the only "factual" definition is the opinion and interpretation of the devs. Period.

Yep. Exactly. Unfortunately "Blackbird." is impervious to all logic.

[Help] Blackbird.: This definition is agreed on by the majority of the people who speak said language - that's what makes it a definition. You could say that's arguing for the majority, but the entirety of language and communication depends on everyone agreeing with something.
[Help] Assistant.: Does it really matter? Help is for help people. Move on.
[Help] Blackbird.: I am helping, actually. I'm helping this guy to understand how wrong he is.
[Help] Ravenous Wraith: it matters because someone is WRONG ON THE INTERNET.
[Help] Assistant.: ^
[Help] Derek Fray: *Brain cells start to die from reading help channel*

Which is what all of us were thinking at this point...well, except for "Blackbird." who was insanely convinced that there was Right in the Universe, and Xie was It.


[Help] Harold Rime: see Blackbird, that is your problem. You are using your opinion to tell someone what is right or wrong in a subjective context. That really is funny.
Help] Blackbird.: Yes, Grandma, welcome to the internet. Did you come out of a time portal from 1995? Hey, I hear there's this really cool video of a dancing baby! Why don't you log on AOL and check it out?

And I guess this is when we all realized that "Blackbird." was no longer in it to win, but just to be mean and strike out.

Again, all of this was happening on one of the global channels for chat in City of Heroes--something that transcends redside or blueside, in mission or out, whether you're a hero in Atlas Park or Peregrine Island, or a villain in Port Oakes or St. Martial. It goes to everybody logged in to that server.

[Help] Blackbird.: Watch out for viruses, though. They can infect your Windows 95 floppies.
[Help] Harold Rime: ooh, zing, good one. Nice gradschool insult.

Of course, Harold wasn't much better at this point.

[Help] Ravenous Wraith: pointless agression.

Indeed so.

[Help] Harold Rime: so, tell me Blackbird, has my counter-trolling pissed you off yet or are you still getting warmed up?
Help] Blackbird.: Harold: When all else fails, apply the ultimate fall-back: "LOL I TROL U"
[Help] Assistant.: ^Did that five minutes ago.
[Help] Harold Rime: Yup, thought so. I bet you thought you were good at trolling, then you took an arrow to the knee I bet.
elp] Assistant.: ^Did in fact take an arrow to the knee.
[Help] Overlord Shadow: How's life in whiterun
[Help] Mu'Kanerak: Lightsaber battle on CoX, Brought to you by E-Peen!

See, and I can't even say I've never done this. What is it about internet conversations that bypasses that internal sanity check? The one that usually starts saying, long before this point, that we might be the merest bit out of line, and we may want to stop fighting back?

Or is it just that people, as a general lump sum, are so frustrated, angry, and feel so ultimately powerless with all the other events in their lives that arguing on the internet becomes some twisted form of accomplishment? I don't get it. I don't get it even having done this.

[Help] Harold Rime: See, you can't give up yet. You're still trying to piss me off. It isn't going to work. I got passed that stage on the internet in...I think it was 1993.
[Help] Overlord Shadow: Internet came out in like 95 didnt it

That clunk you just heard was my jaw completely falling off my face and striking the floor.

[Help] Blackbird.: And you keep implying that I'm trying to piss you off.
[Help] Anti Light: more like the 70s, but didnt take off til the 90s
[Help] Blackbird.: Not that I had to try, mind you. You offered me plenty of swears and insults this entire time.
[Help] Harold Rime: the relentless insults pretty much prove that you are
[Help] Blackbird.: ^- that's you. That's how DUMB you sound.

*sighs* Yes, "Blackbird.", thanks for descending to the level of "Nuh-UH, YOU are!" Honestly, some peoples' children.

[Help] Agaris Sirilye: Dubstep, shut the hell up. Most people here are way beyong caring anymore
[Help] Harold Rime: And how do you know that was or was not sincere? Oh, that's right, your almighty opinion tells you that.
[Help] Apocalypse Pony: It's times like this I wish Help was moderated somehow.


[Help] Blackbird.: Harold: Because you're using the classic "LOL I WAS ACTUALLY TROLLING YOU LOL YOU TOTALLY FELL FOR IT" argument.
[Help] Harold Rime: since when? Also, who made you an authority on psychology?
[Help] Derek Fray: *Eye's burn out of there sockets*
[Help] Overlord Shadow: Thats better
[Help] Blackbird.: The university where I got my master's degree from, Harold.

Gods help us all, it's accredited.

[Help] Blackbird.: I'd say they made me an authority on psychology.

Oh hell, it's an accredited psychologist.

..Wait, is this Stiv??

[Help] Harold Rime: Link your degree.
[Help] Derek Fray: lol
[Help] Blackbird.: Very well.
[Help] Zak Saturday: Remember when the platform was sliding into the fire pit and I said "Goodbye" and you were like 'NO WAY' And then I was all "We pretended we were going to murder you?" That was great!
[Help] Blackbird.: Here you go


Yeah, that was helpful, you idiot.

[Help] Harold Rime: See, this is the problem with the internet, people like Blackbird who think their opinion is fact and that anyone who disagrees with them is inherently wrong.
[Help] Ravenous Wraith: replace "internet" with "people" rime.
[Help] Blackbird.: Harold: You have yet to prove that you are right.

Not right. And again, really, since I'm posting this on my blog, I'm essentially offering up side protests on a conversation already having occurred, so I'm protesting against myself really...A new definition of "pointless", people.

[Help] Blackbird.: I've proven that I'm right through factual dictionary definition, and, on a more minor note, by calling out your numerous logical fallacies.
[Help] Overlord Shadow: Lol jinx
[Help] Blackbird.: Shadow: We're arguing about arguing right now.
[Help] Blackbird.: It's a meta-argument.

It's mind-numbing, is what it is.

[Help] Overlord Shadow: I love you internet
[Help] Harold Rime: wait, -my- logical fallacies? Please tell me what those were. I bet you can't.
[Help] Overlord Shadow: Part of me feels like you and harold are both in on this

About this time I was thinking the same thing.

[Help] Mu'Kanerak: just shut up and kiss already...
[Help] Tentaclown: Harold Rime and the Blackbird? Sounds like JK Rowlings newest novel
[Help] Harold Rime: that's not a fallacy, if it is a fallback, as you believe, then the actual term is cognitive dissonance
[Help] Blackbird.: The actual term is "I did your mom"
[Help] Blackbird.: OH SNAP
[Help] Blackbird.: Okay. Okay. Hang on. Let me go alt to my cold defender so I can get you some ice for that burn.
[Help] Operative Korag: oh for the love of....
[Help] Lovely Lara Lava: Honestly, its at this point I wish I owned a hotel. these guys need a room, badly
[Help] Harold Rime: seriously? that is the best you can come up with after claiming to have a psychology degree? Come on, you can do better than that Blackbird
[Help] Overlord Shadow: I wonder how many global ignores im on
[Help] Overlord Shadow: The silence probably answered that

Which is about when the argument, which apparently went meta when the participants forgot what the hell even they were arguing about, for the most part...trailed off and died a small and whimpering death.

See, the real problem here is not that this happened and wasted all of our time. The real problem is that, since City of Heroes went free to play, this kind of idiocy drives the chatter in Help about ninety percent of the time, twenty-four hours a day.

When it's not spam ads from the Chinese ( is out of Hebei, and is from Nanking), which are, taken honestly, about equally as irritating as this one when it was scrolling along.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

sound of rain is rain in gutters, lightning, seven seconds thunder

This post was brought to you by game boredom...Well, not precisely game boredom...You'll see what I mean.

I've spent more than a year playing City of Heroes. Obviously, any game that retains my attention that long has something, even if it's only relevant to me (see: Minecraft, one of the few games I entered on the alpha-test level). But a few months back, City of Heroes went free to play. Pretty standard format--they 'dumbed down' their intro story arcs (not for the better), added in a micro-transaction store, and--because they still have subscribers, too--partitioned the content into three general groups: free players (they get the basics, have to buy everything else with Paragon Points, but are massively restricted in terms of game content); "Premium" players (players who used to be subscribers, but downgraded, or anyone who buys at least one thing from the Paragon store; due to this, they have a few more bells and whistles); and VIPs (that would be my class, because I'm a subscriber: we get everything, more or less, though we still have to buy new content like any other player).

So. When I make a new character, these days, they get the new intro arcs, which I haaaate, and am beyond bored with. I doubt they'd be so galling if I hadn't decided I needed to remake (remake: keep bio and power selections of, but make as a new character; there's no simple retention of the name and changing power sets. It's discard entirely, then make from scratch). Because of this, I tend to rush through them, and anything that distracts me from the superpowered ennui is...usually...a good thing.

However: one of the curious features of the 'new' City of Heroes is that for new players who aren't VIPs or premium accounts, there's a ton of restrictions. No selling things at the auction house. No crafting things in the Universities. No ability to trade. No ability to send private messages (also called "tells", which I try not to twitch at, because of the WoW association). No ability to chat in all but one chat channel. (I think that's partially changed; new players can chat in Local now, but seriously--that covers the people directly around you, and it's a BIIIIG MMO. Also, another recent change lifted the ban on new players posting in the forums, so that's slowly working out.)

The one channel exception? Help. Which was formerly reserved for things like, "Help! I'm stuck behind a box and I can't get out!" or "I found a bug in one of the missions, is there anyone who's online to take a report?"

Instead, we get chatter. Mindless, draining chatter. Constant chatter. Flirting, plays on words, lolpeople who can't spell, 'what's everyone doing' questions, 'lvl 12 brute nds help on mish' comments, and spammers. Dear gods, do we get spammers.

But there are, though rare and occasional in nature, up sides. Witness this conversation overheard earlier:

[Help] North Wind Barbarian: I am on the "Defeat Mynx' Mish
[Help] North Wind Barbarian: when does she show up?

For those who don't know, this is Mynx:

(from the City of Heroes album)

[Help] North Wind Barbarian: as in how much time until she shows *or does she end up at the back area*
[Help] Possessed Beauty: Just make fun of Neuron she will come running.
[Help] North Wind Barbarian: Thats Bobcat
[Help] Possessed Beauty: Wait that's Bobcat nm
[Help] Green Wraith: or a sign that says "free slutty jumpsuits"
[Help] North Wind Barbarian: LULZ!

This is Bobcat, Minx's Praetorian double:

(from the City of Heroes album)

[Help] Dark Soleil: Its BOOBCAT
[Help] Dark Soleil: people always leave out the extra O for some reason
[Help] Possessed Beauty: If Minx met Bobcat what would result be?
[Help] Green Wraith: hot
[Help] Moira mna Badb: Catfight.
[Help] Ultraguard: a really expensive coat
[Help] Dark Soleil: the result is rule 34
[Help] Possessed Beauty: All of the above most likely.

I have to admit, to divert from the double entendres for a moment, to being impressed by Praetoria. Praetoria is City of Heroes' take on the whole "Crisis on multiple earths" concept. Praetoria is the flip side of the reality that contains Paragon City, and its capital, Nova Praetoria, is ruled by the iron fist of Emperor Cole, who goes so far as to train and station psychics on streetcorners to aid in quashing "traitorous" thinking.

Okay, sure, that's bad, but on the other hand, there is no trash in Praetoria. There's barely any crime (that's not caused by heroes, or hidden away in underground lairs or featureless office buildings). They have universal health care, and everyone works--and not just, everyone must become a cog in the great system. No, every citizen is tested, and their strengths and weaknesses determined, and then they are given a job which they can do, will be productive doing, and which ultimately will give them a happy life.

Damn. Bring on the fascism. If that's the down side--being mentally scanned for subversion off and on--but I get universal health care, a productive job that I can do, and a city free of debris and unfortunate signs of decay? Where do I sign up?

Of course, it is just a game, and it must be mentioned, part of what keeps the city so clean is a large army of partially-independent androids equipped with fire, acid and cleaning anything they can't just burn off or wash away, they can dissolve down to basic particulates...which can then be burned or rinsed clean. They have no problem with homelessness, but that's not necessarily the best thing...

[Help] Azure Sting: I posed a philosophical question last night. If Mother Mayhem went to Boomtown, would it become BOOBtown?
[Help] Green Wraith: going to blow your mind with this: neuron MADE HIS OWN CATGIRL.
[Help] Dirty Bloke: Siege wears his boobs on his shoulders

This is Siege:

(from the City of Heroes album)

They're not actually boobs. He's just big-boned.

[Help] Ultraguard: Funny thing is, Mayhem's got a pair of As, but she just makes you THINK they are Ds
[Help] Possessed Beauty: Haha.
[Help] Dark Soleil: Mother Mayhem looks like Michael Jackson to me

This is Mother Mayhem:

(from the City of Heroes album)

Mother Mayhem trains any girl child with psychic ability for both the combat psychic program, and the Seer program, which ends up with the Seers monitoring thoughts on streetcorners. Also, two things.

1. I can't imagine anyone confusing her with Michael Jackson.
2. Those aren't A-cup breasts. They're just not.

[Help] Possessed Beauty: Yes Desdemona has always been the sexier darkly dressed woman at least to me.
[Help] Green Wraith: yo dawg, we heard you like psychic dominatrices, so we put a psychic dominatrix in your psychic dominatrix, so you can be mindraped while you get mindraped.
[Help] Azure Sting: Desdemona needs better-fitting clothes, half her ass hang out of her underdrawers......

This is Desdemona:

(from the City of Heroes album)

And...yeah, I kind of have to agree with that.

[Help] Operative Minerva: Think about this. Do you REALLY want someone digging through your mind while you're screwing her?
[Help] Iron-Goliath: Mayhem does not care what you want... she is going to F you anyway
[Help] Dark Soleil: Mayhem only likes
little girls
[Help] Operative Minerva: Especially someone who can control other people's bodies with her mind....
[Help] Jenna Tate: a Kardashian?

This is Kim Kardashian:

(from the random album)

And...I can't really say anything about someone who looks like an inflatable doll while alive, so...we'll move on.

[Help] Talrak Sloversin: She's not a Kardashian. Psychics are -useful-.
[Help] Jenna Tate: a wife then?
[Help] Possessed Beauty: Flambeaux is more kardasian than her.

This is Flambeaux:

(from the City of Heroes album)

and she's one of the single most irritating characters in the entire game. (And considering the hundreds if not thousands of quests, the hundreds of different characters before you account for the millions of player characters, and the several different cities on all three sides of the game now...yeah. That's saying something.)

(And yes, I found other pictures of Flambeaux, like this one, but that bar over her head? That means she's halfway down on health and will DIE SOON. That makes me happy.)

So...yes. Really random conversation in the Help Channel this morning. For some reason, I wanted to share.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a badly-translated Korean film about an evil twin I have to get back to...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I saw a preacher man in cuffs; he'd taken money from the church

[10:59] jxxxxxxxxx Hxxxxxxxxx: it's Christmas dammit
[11:00] jxxxxxxxxx Hxxxxxxxxx: all this happy winter holiday....what does that mean
[11:00] Sxxxxx Sxxxxx: it's WINTER

While accurate, that wasn't the main point. What sir lives-in-a-cowboy-hat meant was that everyone should wish everyone a Merry Christmas, specifically, because to do otherwise was offensive. To Christians, one would suppose, even though in Caledon--and on the wider grid as well--there are members of virtually any faith one can comprehend. I know for certain fact that there are many Jewish residents in the Realm of Roses, many pagan residents--of varying "denominations", though that's not really accurate when speaking of larger paganity--and we have a fair scattering of Latter-Day Saints, of Catholics, of Jehovah's Witnesses, of Muslims, and other faiths less well known. We have atheists in Caledon, and we even have one fellow who staunchly believes in Superman, the risen Son of Krypton.

[11:00] Rxx Sxxxxxxx: We still refer to it as Yule in Scandinavia.
[11:00] jxxxxxxxxx Hxxxxxxxxx: so we don't upset a raghead or two

And this single statement, friends and neighbors, wholly perplexed the Caledonians present, and those listening in from farther away, for a good two hours after it was stated by Mr. my-God-I-lurve-horses.

The official definition of "raghead" for the uninitiated:
rag·head derogatory, pejorative
Term used in derogation of Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs, and other groups who traditionally wear headdress forms such as a turban, keffiyeh or headscarf.
If you've never seen a turban, or keffiyeh, let me provide examples:

(from the random album; Maeed wearing the keffiyeh, as seen on his blog.)

(from the random album; Daler Mehndi, pop bhangra singer from India, in a Sikh turban. Picture originally published by the India Times.)

(from the random album; sales photo of a sumayya scarf, or hijab, taken from

There are also some astounding pictures taken by Eric Lafforgue, renowned international photographer, here and on his site, that depict varying forms of keffiyeh, and headscarves and hijabs in general, on women and men in a multitude of countries.

I would point out, especially in the case of certain Americans who are using it specifically as a designating racial slur, that they almost always are using it to refer (and nearly exclusively) to men. But some do expand it to include anyone who might wear any variant of head covering that they think is anti-Christian, regardless of gender.

In the broadest sense, it is a typical insult of its kind: in one two-syllable word, the speaker both insults and denigrates, with added nuances that imply the "raghead" so discussed is also unintelligent, unwashed, and animalistic in nature, thus "lesser" in all important ways, than the speaker. (What's morbidly amusing for me is that I don't think any Arabic or Muslim country has melted any portion of another country into glass with a nuclear bomb...but Americans have. Yet this term implies broadly that "ragheads" cannot be trusted, partially because of the implied tendencies towards violence. Curious indeed.)

[11:00] Zxxxxxxx Wxxxxxx: technically in the [southern] hemisphere its a summer holiday
[11:00] jxxxxxxxxx Hxxxxxxxxxd: lolol
[11:02] jxxxxxxxxx Hxxxxxxxxx: well i ain't in Scandinavia...i'm in it's Happy Christmas....take that as you will
[11:02] Zxxxxxxx Wxxxxxx: Ain't it the third night of Hanakkuh come sundown?
[11:02] Cxxxx Bxxxxxx: eet eez.

The beauty of religion, in this sense, is that some of the dates overlap, and thus, in the most expansive sense, can be "shared", so to speak. Witness:
  • Bodhi Day: Generally on 8 December; Buddhist day celebrating the enlightenment achieved by Siddhartha Gautama.
  • Yule: also Wintertide, Winter Solstice, Jul, and others; refers to celebrations of varying types to celebrate the longest night of the year. Lights are lit, feasts are held, gifts are exchanged, and, depending on the community, there are other traditions (the Julbock, for instance, who used to bring gifts in many Scandinavian countries).
  • Hanukkah: Winter celebration of the victory of the Maccabees over King Antiochus; the eight days that the celebration runs honor each of the eight days that the one-day supply of purified ritual oil lasted, when the Maccabees had captured the Temple and begun to drive out the Greeks.
  • Christmas: the celebration at the end of December to honor Christ's birth, exchange gifts, hang lights to stave off darkness, and worship in community.
  • Kwanzaa: the (relatively) new celebration of African heritage, designed to honor and support African Americans specifically, their ancestors, and the trials suffered and survived.
  • Eid el Adha, the remembrance of the sacrifice: Also known as the "solemn festival", remembering the commandment from Allah to Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, who was spared through Ibrahim's faith, and exchanged for a sheep. Cows, sheep, goats, and even camels are chosen to be sacrificed formally, in holy, consecrated ways, and the animals sacrificed are then thirded: one-third of the meat is kept to feed the sacrificing family; one-third goes to the holy men who have blessed the proceedings, and their families; and the last third is traditionally given to the poor, so that everyone can be fed and cared for.
  • Festivus: A secular, non-commercial holiday, that regardless, has caught on with many celebrants who felt excluded by the commercial aspects of Christmas as currently celebrated. Festivus features an absolutely undecorated steel pole (for the Festivus pole needs no other decoration), and two main themes: the airing of family grievances (because honesty is a virtue, even when it's a pain in the ass), and feats of strength (the feats of strength traditionally only end when the head of the household has been officially pinned and thus concedes).
  • Las Posadas: A nine-day festival in Mexico commemorating Miriam and Ioseph struggling to find lodging, the night of Yeshua's birth.
  • Boxing Day: Celebrated in the British Isles, this was an after-Christmas celebration where gifts were given to servants and to the poor, and feasts and celebrations were held with friends and family who did not live in the immediate vicinity. Currently, the day also features horse races, rugby matches, and grand shopping adventures.
There are also other, more "minor" holidays celebrated; I'm sure I'm leaving many off the list.

[11:02] Sxxxxx Sxxxxx: Mr Hxxxxxxxxx, there are people of all faiths in SL - while "winter holiday" is perhaps a bit generic, it IS inclusive - not just the christian Christmas, but also the jewish Chanuka and other seasonal holidays as well
[11:03] Rxx Sxxxxxxx: I dunno. Today is the winter solstice, in a couple of days is the old pagan holiday repurposed by Christians.
[11:03] Cxxxx Bxxxxxx: but it excludes the southern hemisphere ;)
[11:04] jxxxxxxxxx Hxxxxxxxxx: well if they are of diff. won't mean anything to them

And this was the second place where many residents in and out of Caledon headtilted. First, did he really mean that everyone should say Merry Christmas over other (one assumes equally heartfelt) wishes, simply because if they're not Christian, then it won't hurt, and second, because Christians are really that touchy?

(Actually, strike that last, I've seen FOX News, some are that touchy.)

And the other point that arose was the seeming inference that if they did not, themselves, celebrate Christmas, then obviously their seasonal celebrations didn't matter, and so they should wish everyone Merry Christmas anyway, because their own faiths were meaningless.

That last one is a very sore point for some, to be sure, but it's also baffling--why would Mr. never-ever-ever-leaving-Texas-because-it's-the-bestest-state-in-the-world want to alienate that many people? Maybe it was just that he really didn't care. Insensitivity, after all, thy name is (in large portion) America...

[11:04] Zxxxxxxx Wxxxxxx: Heck Christmas is a SECULAR holiday. It must be since the US govt observes it, if it were religious in nature then it would run afoul of the Establishment clause of the 1st Ammendment and we would have to deliver mail on Dec 25th

As is known by now, to anyone who adds up the letters given, I don't normally agree with this individual. Therefore, it should come as a great surprise that I absolutely agree with him here, and I never thought about it that way. Because considering the (daily eroding) separation of church and state in the US, were it a religious holiday, the government would be barred from celebrating it. So--while many celebrations privately are held on the same day, in churches and in homes--the day of Christmas, the 25th, at least in America, must no longer have any connection to a religious figure.

There's a mental stunner for you.

[11:04] Sxxxxx Sxxxxx: I generally prefer "seasons greetings" or similar, taking into account the [hemisphere]
[11:04] Yxxxx Bxxxxxxx: Yes it is Day 3 of Hanukkah!
[11:05] jxxxxxxxxx Hxxxxxxxxx: ok......sorry i wished all of you a Happy Christmas.....i won't be doing it again

See, I still don't think Mr. take-my-cowboy-boots-when-I'm-dead-you-varmints really understands. It's not that he offended a wide subsection of Caledon with his ill-considered statements (though he did). And it's not that Caledon as a whole is trying to insist that he be politically correct, whatever that means at this point in time.

It's that his very insistence that everyone wish each other a Merry Christmas, and nothing else, in a clearly multicultural as well as international virtual world, just. Does. Not. Work.

[11:06] Yxxxx Bxxxxxxxxx: Why Mr Hxxxxxxxxx I think that is the beauty of a world of diversity.
[11:06] Rxx Sxxxxxxx: Will we be allowed to wish you a happy new year, or is there some special Christian version of that too?

So I admit, I got curious. I looked him up. His groups, man...Well, here:
  • Texas Rangers
  • 1st Recon USMC
  • Co. A Texas Rangers
  • Corse GP Racing
  • H********* Ranch
  • Hollywood Airport Pilots Assn.
  • Independent State of Caledon
  • Joyus Living
  • Second Skies
  • Texas 1800's
  • The Comancheros
  • The road to Deadwood
  • ~Amaretto Rance~ Breedables
I get it. You like horses. You like Texas. You love big manly sports of big manliness. You adore the military. Bet you're a Republican RL, too. (And no, nobody jump me for that one--I have Republican friends, I have Republican family, and believe me, you just haven't LIVED until you go home for the holidays with your same-sex spouse to spend it with the folks who proudly voted in DOMA...But I digress: the point being, I understand what Republicans believe, and I can largely support old-style conservative leanings. Where I have a problem is with the current everyone-but-me-sucks-and-needs-to-leave-the-country thinking. Like, I suspect, Mr. Yellow-Rose-of-Texas, here.)

So...other than my personal, abhorrently violent desire to light him on fire and swerve him onto a railcar, to ride off in a merry glow out of Caledon forever, what did he gain by this diatribe early this morning? Really, it depends on whom you ask. For many of us, it made him a figure to watch, and perhaps be wary of further conversations with. Others found him morbidly amusing. Still others were baffled--I had to explain to one genteel lass, for instance, what "raghead" meant as an insult, which is why I'm also defining it here.

I suppose, in the end, there's no accounting for bigotry or intelligence; to be more plain, both the stupid and the religiously deranged can likely figure out enough of how renting on the grid works to rent anywhere. I just personally wish he wasn't renting in Caledon, precisely because we do have such a diverse community, and--until his untimely placement of his pointy-toed boot into his wide-open mouth--for the most part we seem to have hit another peaceful patch where the only arguments are happening at events, in person, over in Caledon chat.

So much for that. Here's to the New Year to come: may 2012 be filled with far less ignorance and religious intolerance. Ramen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

in the half-light, I'll see you in time

There's been more than a few stories on Kotaku recently concerning sexism--some good, some baffling--but this one caused a double-strength arched eyebrow. Mainly because I can't really say there's much difference between a skin-tight organic-metal "armor" bikini on the upper concept art, and then end result of the metal-and-chain bust piece with the bikini-attached-to-silk-strip thong, on the "actual" game shot. (Barring that the color blends are better in the concept art, than in the game costume, at least.)

Then came SL's latest scandal, which is puzzling to say the least. (Though it hasn't been without its up side, to be fair.) I'm still not entirely sure why people are attacking Miss Ohmai: she made a pixel tribute to a vintage fur stole, something that has just not been seen in this form for years, if not decades; so how did she "kill" anything?

(That's a serious question--for all my [former] investment in SL, I never lost sight of the fact that it is a virtual world. And the people that do, tend to scare me.)

Even separating out the tribute from its virtual roots, and placing it firmly as an actual created object in the real world (which it's just not, people, come on now)...something like this is about as close as you're going to get, these days, for new items. And vintage items--like this offering on eBay--are precisely that, vintage. Vintage means--for those who care about such things--that the animal died a long, long time ago, and at this point was not even slain by people one might run into, even were one living in the heart of a fur district. Vintage means the item now exists, but can be relined with new satin, or subtly altered to enhance its natural beauty--the original incident which brought it into being is now long past.

More to the point, animals die. Animals, like people, die all the time. And there are rarely quiet, peaceful, dignified deaths for animals, passing away surrounded by the support of their loved ones, at greatly advanced ages. This is because nature is as harsh as it is beautiful, brutality and shining light combined, and death, injury, illness and trauma are facts of life.

Really, if you stop to think about it, they're facts of our lives too, because we are as much of nature as the fox, the ermine, the rabbit, the bear--for all that we distance ourselves from that fact.

If you haven't gathered this by now, I'm not a member of PETA. I'm for wearing fur. I'm for wearing leather. (Hells, there was a poet some years back who wanted, after his death, his last published volume to be a limited edition of fifty, bound in his own skin. I have no compunctions about that, either.) I do not think it is base and unworthy animal cruelty to use all of the animals slain--meat, bone, marrow, fur, skin, claws--and I am for rational uses of resources.

Do I disagree with animal farms solely to harvest fur and toss the rest of the animal aside? Yes. But I think that's a wasteful practice in general. By all means, keep rabbits for their fur, but for their meat, too. And I'm also against feeding chickens ground-up chicken, because they're not omnivores; I'm against keeping food animals penned in small spaces in general, and fed massive doses of antibiotics to keep them productive, because what enters the meat then enters us, on later consumption. (And no, I'm not a vegetarian either.)

The point behind all of this, though, is that this is not a real, physical item. Let me repeat that again, because it's vaguely important: THIS IS AN ENTIRELY IMAGINARY RECREATION OF A VINTAGE ITEM. IT IS DESIGNED TO LOOK LIKE FAUX FUR. SO NO ANIMALS DIED TO MAKE THIS...EVER...AT ANY TIME.

Of course, some people are really, really dim, and will keep complaining to her anyway. My advice? Support the hell out of her designs to spite them.

And this may be the weirdest thing I've seen this year.

On that note, I'm off to celebrate the Longest Night with family, so we're killing City of Heroes' Winter Lord as a group! To battle!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

a world with frogs and magic tricks

Wait, what? (That link, btw, is SOOOO not safe for work, but...still, even for SL, it's kind of eye-opening. And don't get me wrong, I have nothing against guys with's just that he looks so angry in the picture!)

While we're discussing bizarre things on the Marketplace, this one made me giggle maniacally for five minutes. Even better? They directly ripped off the name--and the logo--of! I wonder if there's anyone specifically to notify...Suppose you could drop a message off here.

Also, nice try, Blades, but that's Sonic. Blatant copyright infringement is blatant.

There's a fellow in the Minecraft community named Vechz. Vechz makes evil, evil downloadable worlds. He calls them his Super-Hostile Map series. And he's not kidding--they range from baffling to impossible to survive, and all are designed to be tricky and devious and trap-ridden and monster-ridden in every conceivable way.

Recently, Vechz was talked into playing one of his "Mini-Hostile" maps by his friends and fans. Did he survive the experience? Well, this was the result, so...I'd say no.

While we're discussing Minecraft, there's an enterprising fellow who decided Minecraft's Nether was too bland. So he generated his own. Phenomenal job.

have you ever thought that the sky was just endlessly dark?

I had a small bit of free time yesterday, between holiday demands, and traipsed into world to visit Curious Kitties. Miss Yossarian is having a rare retirement sale (there's more information on it here--and I will admit, I'm not one of her biggest customers. This is due in no way to the quality of her designs; she's always made beautiful skins, hair and outfits, and now she's experimenting with mesh, and what I've been able to see is just as impressive. No, two things hold me back:

1. She's really expensive. Don't get me wrong, her items are likely worth it, but seriously, when I can pay rent for two to four weeks for what she charges for one avatar set, or one week for a skin? Yeah, that's not an impulse buy at that point.

2. I can buy all the hair from her in the world; if I don't have the right HUD to change the colors, I'm pretty much screwed.

How'ver, all that changed with this sale.

(from the shopping album)

This is Erltur, out of the box. I haven't adjusted anything; there's a bit of flicker along the bangs that will need to be fixed, but I can do that later.

(from the shopping album)

This is Erltur tinted in the sage/lilac on the "Wild" color HUD (currently: L$300 for sixteen variant shades), and keep in mind, the "Wild" color HUD only tints the bangs and the ribbons (which I chose to turn purple).

(from the shopping album)

And this is Erltur tinted with the "Old Fashion Brown" HUD picked up some months back on a Curious Kitties' free offer. (Now fixed!--Editrix)

Total outlay (including the HUD) for this hair: L$310. Yes, under this current sale, many of her Nyanotech A and B hairs are going for L$10 each.

Not all of her hairs are anime-inspired, either.

(from the shopping album)

This is Monque out of the box; as you can tell by the flashes of red through my chest and below my left shoulder, the bangs need a bit of adjusting. This is an entirely sculpted style, zero flex.

(from the shopping album)

This is it with candyfloss pink bangs (the back remained black, at least with tints from the "Wild" HUD).

(from the shopping album)

This is it with green-striped bangs; again, the back hair is left black.

(from the shopping album)

And this is it with the "Old Fashion Brown" tinting (which tints the black as well).

Basically, there are several color HUDS to tint hairs, available for the "A" and "B" derivative lines. You can get sixteen colors, in defined shades, for L$300 to L$700; you can get four-packs of colors for $100; and many specialty shades between L$300 and L$500 (right now, I believe, she still has the "Strawberry Banana" color pack of streaked pink and yellow, and she's newly released an arctic shading pack of white, silver, blue and lilac, I think). If you line up the HUD you want (or already have one, in my case), and find hairs you like to match that HUD--trust me, ten Linden hair? Not easy to find.

**DO** make backup copies, though! I can't stress that enough, because none of the HUDs has a color reset button. If you liked the way the hair looked out of the box, make a backup, because you won't get it back! And keep in mind if you buy one of the specialty holiday hair HUDs (like the Grand Ornament hair HUD, for instance), it will only work to change the colors on that hair.

Still, a lot of different options, for less inventory space. Can't really argue with that.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

you were there, you were small; there was screaming down the hall

[20:00] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: I have an emergency.......
[20:00] Txxxxx Wxxxxxxx: what sort?
[20:00] Exxxxx Zxxxxxxx: what would that be?
[20:00] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: my 16year old sl son is at the alter
[20:00] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: anyone do weddings as in minister like right now wedding starts at 8:30

So, several group members halted at that one, but thankfully, others were on the ball with comments:

[20:00] Zxxxxxx Ixxxxxx grabbs first aide kit
[20:00] Oxxx Axxxxx: 16 O_o
[20:01] Sxxxxxx Kxxxxx: Have your pets spade and neutered ...
[20:01] Emilly Orr: 1. Your minister ditched the wedding?
[20:01] Exxxxxxxxxx Sxx: sorry I do hanfasting but 16 is a little young and mine are real
[20:01] Lxxxxx Fxxxxxx: minister???...dont you mean you need a shrink?
[20:01] Emilly Orr: 2. He's getting married *at sixteen*??
[20:01] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: n our person never showed
[20:01] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: more like knocked the bride to be up
[20:01] Sxxxxxxxx Vxxxxxxx: Is this a shotgun wedding? ;)
[20:01] Emilly Orr blinks

Because yeah, at this point, I was trying to process the fact that, in SL, some sixteen-year-old was being forced to marry another virtual avatar because the other virtual avatar had become fake pregnant...I mean, yeah, RP, sure, but guys...

[20:01] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: I need a preist
[20:02] Mxxxxx Dxxxxxx: see what happens when some doofuse closes the teen grid ?

Yeah, really. Which again, not that I haven't run this point into the ground, but still remains the very bestest reason ever to not date on the grid.

[20:02] Oxxx Axxxxx: you need child protective services
[20:02] Txxx Axxxxx: you need parental consent lol
[20:02] lxxx Txxxx thinks someone needed a condom
[20:02] Mxxxx Dxxxxxx: I am minister but I require people to be of age
[20:02] Axxx Yxxxxxxx: 16 yrs old?

People kept coming back to that. Sixteen years old and getting married on the grid. The hell.

[20:02] Cxxxx Axxxxxx: can I assume the actual person playing your SL son is older than 16?
[20:02] Emilly Orr slowly and carefully steps away from the RP, nodding calmly.
[20:02] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: hehehe
[20:02] Yxxxx Nxxxx: In Vegas.
[20:03] Mxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: laughing my ass off
[20:03] Exxxxxxxxxx Sxx: and why are you asking this in TT group chat

And I'm surprised it took only three minutes to ask that question.

[20:03] Mxxxx Dxxxxxx: is someone here his parent?
[20:03] Lxxxxxxxx Sxxxxxxxxx: depends on the [state] there in and if it can be verified
[20:03] SxxxRxxxx Vxxxxxxx: If you have a gun..I can find a priest
[20:04] Cxxxx Axxxxxx: pretty sure this is a RP situation, and the person behind the 16yr old is actually older than 16. In which case, you need to be finding a RP priest, not an OOC one.
[20:04] Pxxxxxx Sxxxxxxx: or someone who can marry them

And the frantic seeking soul here is still not perceiving the difference between RL priests/ministerial sorts (which we, being a building group, had actually been talking about), and SL priests/ministerial sorts. I figured on being impaired somehow, intoxicated on something, because the other assumption was that he was just that dim, and...for a group devoted to learning new building techniques, and discussing texturing, for the most part, that just hurt to think about.

[20:04] Fxxxxxxxxx Ixxxxx: who knocked the bride up, the minister or the groom??[20:04] Exxxxxxxxxx Sxx: whoa is there a baby involved
[20:04] Mxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: omg now I am crying
[20:04] Axxx Yxxxxxxx: hate to say, but you can get in pretty bad trouble for that shit
[20:04] Axxxxxxxx Lxxxxxx: just jump over a broom
[20:04] Mxxxx Dxxxxxx: it still falls under the heading of contributing to the delinquency of a minor
[20:04] Mxxxx Dxxxxxx: i do have a broom
[20:05] Mxxxx Dxxxxxx: swat his hiney with it and tell him to go read a book
[20:06] Cxxxx Axxxxxx: and you reaaaalllyyy need to make that more clear when you ask for something, especially in a BUILDERS GROUP

Yeah, exactly. And again, so surprised it took six minutes to bring this up!

[20:06] Axxx Yxxxxxxx: and do his homework before bedtime
[20:06] Fxxxxxxxxx Ixxxxx: whatever happened to living in sin??
[20:06] Exxxxx Zxxxxxxx: ahh, the good old days!
[20:06] Mxxxx Dxxxxxx: some of us would rather live in grace
[20:06] Exxxxxxxxxx Sxx: sin can be very graceful

Or at least encourage flexibility, if nothing else.

Then the L$20,000 question arose:

[20:07] Sxxxx Hxxxxxxx: Well since its RP can't someone in the wedding party pretend like they are certified to do weddings? I mean really how do you become "official" in SL anyway?

It's a damned good question. Really, in SL, you're only who you say you are. But then, that goes right to the heart of pseudonymity, doesn't it? When does who we pretend to be cease to be a valid expression of who we really are? And who gets to decide that?

At any rate, this conversation, start to finish, in an RP group? I wouldn't have batted an eye. Even this conversation, start to finish, in Caledon would only have earned an arched eyebrow.

But this question in a store group devoted to textures and building...well. It was bizarre, to say the least.

And I'm still not sure the fellow in question actually got his pretend minister for his pretend son to marry his pretend knocked-up damsel...who may or may not be sixteen in real life.

Either of them, the son or the daughter-to-be. Just odd.

Friday, December 16, 2011

standing in line as we march to the drums of the east

"It's very important for bats to avoid dehydration. If you are a bat, and you're watching this video, please drink at least eight spoonfuls of water a day." Okay then.

Also, this time next year, television broadcasters and cable broadcasters will be operating under a new law which will enforce the same volume for commercials as for non-commercial programming. What bothers me is how long it took to get this passed. People have been screaming about the volume on commercials being higher than regular programming for decades, so what gives?

There's a 2011 countdown of films circling around the net; in total, in under six minutes, there are clips from two hundred and thirty films that were either made, produced, or released in 2011. Impressive, and awe-inspiring.

Santarchy! I love that that's now an "official" term for Santa mobs. In a similar vein, find out more about the sarcastic font movement. And maybe make it a Nyan Cat Christmas while you're at it.

An advertising agency in Mozambique figures it can dodge paying licensing fees by not showing the whole face of several comic superheroines, but beyond that, they've come up with an amazing campaign in support of self-checking for breast cancer. Will the dodge work? Will comic companies come down on them anyway? Do we, the viewing public, even care?

Status cats! Including pictorial tribute to the hypertext coffee pot control protocol. There's variations for everything, I suppose.

Could Netflix bring Firefly back from the dead? It wasn't a question I ever thought to ask, but Netflix is now (re) producing Arrested Development as an original show. So suddenly Firefly--and a lot of other shows who have fans, but have been long-cancelled--are starting to be reconsidered.

The Lindens--at least according to Daniel Voyager--has responded (directly on a JIRA! WOOHOO!) that they're both willing and able to evaluate the naming system again. Mr. Voyager thinks this might lead to restoration of the two-name system used in the past. I'm not so sure, but hey, everyone keep their fingers crossed.

In RL news, something being termed a witch's cottage has been discovered at a dig site in Lancashire. More news when they excavate and analyze more of the dig.

Finally, I bring you Nyan Cat eyes! (There's also a video tutorial link on that post at deviantArt.) Knock yourselves out. (She's also got other pretty eye-makeup tutorials. Hint, drop, thud, Mocksoup.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

people throw rocks at things that shine

Another clip entry, yes. First, this right here explains in one place why we hate the new enchanting system in Minecraft. Because on average--and that's assuming you have the levels for this--it takes 2,480 attempts to get one level 50 enchantment on anything, and that doesn't assume any particular type.

And the enchantments themselves are so widely varied...There's a rather labyrinthine list of possible enchantments on armor, equipment and weaponry available on the Minecraft wiki, but remember the above--to get, say, an enchanted sword with Smite V and Knockback II (just to pick two at random) you're going to be making at least seventy attempts, up to three thousand attempts. Keep in mind, too, that even when the enchantment table is properly built (the table surrounded by two levels of 15 bookcases each, leaving room on one side for a door), you have to make your item, enchant your item, and blindly hope you get lucky.

If you're not opped on a server (so as to freely allow you to summon iron or diamond to make base enchantable items and armor), then this is exactly what that means:
  • 1. Dig deep enough to find diamonds in the first place.
  • 2. Mine out two of the ones you find.
  • 3. Go back to wherever your enchanting room has been built; make your diamond sword (also requiring one stick for the hilt, so if you don't already have wood, go punch down a tree nearby).
  • 4. Place the diamond sword in the enchanting table's enchanting screen.
  • 5. Using only the bottom enchantment values (because apparently slots one and two are bugged, leaving only slot three as an active enchanting slot), place (then lift out, and place again) the sword, until you hit the number you want (keeping in mind that enchanting uses up player levels, so to get a level 50 enchantment, you need to have at least 105 levels).
  • 6. Make your sword.
  • 7. Take out the now enchanted (and glowing faintly) sword. Mouse over it to read what it now does.
  • 8. If unsatisfied (as in, you wanted Knockback and you got Bane of Arthropods, or you wanted Smite V and you got Fire Aspect II), do it all again by either repairing the sword (merging it and another diamond sword on the crafting table screen, which removes any enchantment on the weapon), or going back down to the depths and finding more diamond.
It's a ludicrous, draining, exhaustive waste of time at present. While some good things are coming out of it, mostly it's just a time sink, in a game that really, really didn't need another time sink option.

Two missing Doctor Who episodes have been recovered! Why this is such a big deal takes a bit to explain, though there's an article on Mightygodking's blog that does a better job of getting this across, but basically, this is one of the (many) reasons Doctor Who fandom isn't like other fandoms.

Imagine, say: if Star Trek, for instance, had retained bits and pieces from the first season, two seasons from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and one season from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Your best bet to get other people interested in what you're interested in, always, is to just show them the episodes.

But what if they don't exist? While this seems baffling beyond all reason today, the BBC routinely had a habit of destroying the master tapes after initial (and very short) rebroadcasting rights had expired. That, combined with a later fire in the BBC archives, meant that many of the early episodes of Doctor Who aren't just rare, they're outright gone.

And to find even bits of the lost story arcs is a phenomenal thing. Understand: these aren't complete, start to finish episodes even now--they're essentially chapters of larger works. The intact larger works may never be found, and that's something that most fandoms just don't struggle with.

There will likely be some DVD release of even the episodes bit, likely with heavy commentary and still shots fore and aft, but Doctor Who fans are durable and enduring: we'll take that. We're just happy to have more of our show back.

Speaking of Star Trek, have some offbeat Star Trek cameos...For me personally, I knew about most of those--and others not listed!--save for Mick Fleetwood as the giant fish-man. That was just baffling.

How to make a LAN-party-optimized house! Great instructions, great construction, and what seems like a level-headed, good guy working at Google. Good to know they're not all small-minded, tin-plated dictators with delusions of godhood.

Ever wanted to throw a ball and have it walk back to you? Soon you'll be able to.

There's an upcoming LEGO/Minecraft partnership. Though I don't get why that article, and others, are saying Minecraft is saving LEGO with this move. LEGO has their own theme park, and has LEGO-built national monuments that are sent out on secure tours--once you reach that point, there's really no way to fail.

Also, have a Creeper fetish? It's made it into actual fetishwear. (Also winterwear, but latex makes it shinier.)

And Rodvik Linden makes an announcement. I will admit, I have dread based on the language, because it doesn't sound like he's speaking to other people, but directly to other middle managers, using obfuscating business-speak. And the whole statement of making the naming system "intuitive" with "more features" just chills me.

Plus, of course, the fact that he's mentioned they're going to intensely analyze and look at how to better this particular system? That means it's the new shiny. So Marketplace will continue to not be fixed. Merchants will continue to be hard-hit by the global economy and close up shop. Sims will continue to be abandoned. The not-at-all-slow attrition level at this point will continue.

Honestly, by the time they get to the end of the first quarter of 2012, to make the initial announcements? Well, I'm fairly sure there'll be a grid left, but three more months of people giving up and wandering off SL will make even more changes, and none of them good ones.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm just staring at the ceiling, waiting for the feeling

On my wanderings tonight, I came across quite the opinionated little vixen at one of the stores I'm frequenting for their lovely Advent fare. In addition to the rest of her groups, she was, notably, in these:
  • *Animal Rights Advocates*
  • Stop Child Pornography
  • Feminists
  • Gender Square
  • Second Life Anti-Gorean Council
  • SL Left Unity Feminist Network
  • Stop Violence Against Women
Hmm. That's rather a lot of strident scolding all bottled up, there. Now, to make my position clear, I'm not pro-animal cruelty, or for abuse against women. And, as irritated as I am at the movement in general at times, I still consider myself a feminist.

However, in her picks, she has this statement concerning the "AGAINST DOLCETT & -TORTURE RP" group (and yes, the group name does have that perplexing dash):
This group is for everyone who is beware of the danger of role playing Dolcett, snuff and torture phantasies in SL.
I refuse to take you seriously on any of your issues until you learn to spell. Or at least use proper grammar.

So, it's taken me some time for processing, beyond the screen, but I think I've finally figured out part of why I'm just not drawn to Second Life at the moment. I think a lot of it's tied up with abandoning my store.

To be clear, I was never an effective merchant. I had fun designing things, but over the entirety of my business history--under any business name--I've sold less than twenty objects total priced over five Lindens.

I've been in SL more than five years. That's less than five objects a year.

So I was never a success as a business owner, I want to make that clear. Whatever the trick is to running a successful operation, I wasn't doing it, and I never really did make much of an effort to, past the first year. I'm not blaming anyone other than myself for the business failing.

But I'm now reflecting back on other things, and adding them up again. I never broke the bank as an escort, either. While I did do pretty good, overall, as a dancer, the bottom dropped out of dancing (at least my style of dancing) when the casinos left. I failed as a madam; I failed as an event hostess; I failed as a virtual real estate agent; I failed as a land manager.

At this point, I am facing squarely two facts: the Lindens I have, to spend on rent, shopping, and parcel decoration, are solely being funded by other people; and, while I have a strong virtual work ethic, I'm just not drawn to doing anything I've failed at in the past.

And I haven't yet found something I want to take on as a new career.

More to the point, literally the only times I'm entering into Second Life as a whole is for the various Advent calendar presents (and to be ruthless about this, I'm over 75,000 items in inventory now, and adding to that with new items is just making me depressed), or to pay rent.

And I sold off my last Caledon parcel, so I'm only paying rent to Lady Serra. And I'm even reconsidering much as I love Winterfell, and want to support it, is it worth it to continue paying rent if I'm not coming into world for any other reason than buying more virtual time on a virtual medieval (ish) server?

Overall, all of these considerations are also not doing much good for the guttering holiday spirit. Part of that is that we haven't dug out any of the holiday lights, or ornaments; I haven't had the inclination or the finances to make my own ornaments (as I've done most years); and I have zero idea what to get people, either in SL or in RL.

I'm at an impasse. I'm hoping this feeling of being frozen in place will ease at some point, and I'll at least understand what ways forward remain (even if they lead to places where I walk away from Second Life). I mean, at least it would be doing something, not just standing, frozen in indecision and regret.

(Of course, the other part of the problem is currently feeling overwhelmed by the amount of fun ideas I've run across this year. Just a brief sample of the things I've been trying to decide between:
...and all of that? Just came in to start perusing this past few days.

So...lots of things to consider in the background. Hopefully, I'll manage to thread this needle--so to speak--and continue on, in some capacity, as a Second Life resident. But it's far from easy...and, as usual, the Lindens aren't helping in the least.

Not that they ever did...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm always in the twilight, in the shadow of your heart

I never, ever, ever want to see this. That said, the concept of a Watchmen prequel comic isn't automatically a bad one; it's just that--as with so many other mythic concepts--getting it wrong is a higher likelihood than getting it right. It likely won't be Sailor Daleks wrong, but the potential's definitely there.

Kotaku, on another front entirely, weighs in on the official review of Minecraft, now that it's in open release. Yes, Minecraft is finally out of beta, and unfortunately, the general reaction has been--it was better in beta, Notch. Which is never where a game designer wants their game. Hopefully--since Notch has stepped down as CEO and lead of Mojang--Jens will listen to the game's fans, and maybe work towards improvements.

Still, what are people complaining about? Well, this for instance. Also this. And these two. And another door glitch. (Though to be fair, this is less a bug, and more a feature...) And almost countless others, including things that work in SP, but not in SMP (basically, single-player versus multi-player).

Generally, the impression is not that people are tired of Minecraft now that it's no longer 'experimental'. (Or even 'independent', by at least traditional definitions.) But many are saying--and I'd say I'm among them--that some of these bugs were reversals of earlier bug fixes, and, more to the point, should have all been fixed before leaving beta.

The Walktopus is going to be a reality! In bronze, no less. Larger-than-life sculpted version, yes. (I keep thinking I've linked this, but then I remember, I haven't updated the Train Wreck to anything in December yet...)

And I want to talk about the double-dozen hours' war between Regretsy and PayPal. To bring everyone up to speed who doesn't know: Regretsy, in addition to being a repository for pointless, surreal and bizarre Etsy crafts (and makers), has also come up with several innovative ideas to get necessary funds to people that need them--including children, the poor, and those in hospitals and hospices.

The latest round was a mini-fund to support two hundred deserving families in poverty, to help them with actual financial donations (to pay bills or pay rent), as well as buy toys to give to the children of these families. (That's covered in this entry, by the way, and also touched on in greater depth by the Green Geek Girl.)

So what went wrong? PayPal did. Both by deciding--spuriously, as it turns out--that Ms. Winchell was rooking vast numbers of unaware donators, but also, by deciding on a whim that their vague internal policies didn't matter if they decided they didn't.

And, as a result--at least, a couple days' back--killing the entire charitable effort, because PayPal not only froze Ms. Winchell's business PayPal account, but also her personal account, which has never been used for any of her charitable efforts on behalf of Regretsy.

There was outcry. There was a great deal of outcry. People on Twitter freaked out. People on Tumblr freaked out. The Consumerist blog published a long list of every single PayPal contact address they could find.

Then PayPal posted an official statement, which is still--slowly--filtering through to the screaming mobs hungry for PayPal's blood. But to be absolutely fair to both sides, all of this could have been avoided if they'd have had more concrete, less flimsy and vague policies established in the first place.

Now, at this point, PayPal's made their own donation to the needy families, as well as refunding seized funds from both her established PayPal accounts (which is severely after the fact, as she'd already refunded, on her own, more than two thousand dollars' donated to the charitable effort). I suppose it's a case of all's well that ends well, but as Ms. Winchell puts it, "We see the erosion of customer care in every sector. No one knows your name. No one makes eye contact. No one thanks you [...] And Paypal forgets your fees are attached to people who are trying to make a living, or facilitate something good for other people."

She's absolutely right.

Finally, Discovery's long-running and highly popular show, Mythbusters, has been placed on indefinite hold while an investigation is conducted on what exactly launched a seven-hundred pound cannon through a house and a car, and could have (five minutes before or after--seriously killed or injured people. I don't think Discovery (or parent company ABC) will find them at fault, but it's a scary, scary brush with an almost-disaster.

Hopefully, more later. Still severely disenchanted with SL. Trying to work through it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

out of the wreckage that I do

We start with this:
Sxxxx Hxxxxx: I got tossed out running from rolling restarts and came back wearing an egg and standing in a flower planter
And this:
Axxxx Zxxxxxxxxx: Yep, they broke the code today and are rolling back on it. Apparently they found an issue that can cause sims to crash. Not sure why that's such an issue now when it wasn't 6 weeks ago....
No clue. But this is from the status update:
[POSTED] Rolling Restarts BlueSteel, LeTigre, and Magnum RC servers

Posted by Status Desk on November 29th, 2011 at 04:35 pm PST
[Posted 4:30PM PST, 29 November 2011]
Rolling restarts on the BlueSteel, LeTigre, and Magnum RC server channels will be starting at approximately 5:00AM Wednesday morning. Please refrain from rezzing no copy objects, making inworld L$ transactions and please save all builds. We will also be introducing a new channel named Second Life RC KT which is a temporary channel that will be used to test an upgrade expected to roll out to all of our servers over the next 30 days. This will not impact region functionality
and later:
[POSTED] Rolling Restarts Main Server

Posted by Status Desk on November 29th, 2011 at 04:52 pm PST
[POSTED 4:15PM PST, 29 November 2011]
Rolling restarts for regions on the main Second Life Server channel will commence shortly. Please save all builds and refrain from making purchases during this time.
Now, I won't lie, for the past week I've been severely disenchanted with SL. I think I've been in exactly twice since Thanksgiving, flat out. I'm not employed on the grid anymore, I'm not particularly loyal to anyone, I'm not dating, and we don't currently have excess funds to spend on Lindens so I can't shop. Until another project hits me, that I actually want to build, or a hunt comes along that I want to participate in, I think I'm feeling some understandable disconnection from things.

But this still bothers me. What did they break today, that required such an extreme rollback of the entire grid, that was different from the sims crashing randomly last week? What was so vital that it required kicking more people off the grid, that they didn't manage to fix during the last mass rollback and restart?

Finally, a way to get darker colors in the oversaturated, vibrant landscape of Diablo 3. It's about damned time. But the truly sad thing, for me, in watching that video? Is that Blizzard could have done that themselves, at any time. Come on, people. Is it really that hard to listen to the people who will buy the game and maybe not paint everything vibrant teal and gold?

Moving on. You've seen the horses. You've seen the sidekicks. You may have seen the auto-deathing, or the strangely animated cart. You might also know that hopping can save warriors from giant attacks.

But did you realize bears cannot attack you when you're spinning through the neck of your horse? (It's a unique riding position, I believe only found in certain sections of Skyrim.)

In other bear news, freezing bears in Skyrim is still a really bad idea.

Finally, you will notice a pop-up that's activating (should be only once per unique viewer, tell me if that glitches) with a little widget to help American citizens call their Senators to stop the passage of PIPA through the Senate. If you're not American, it's not for you; just close it, and it shouldn't pop up again.

If you are American, however, please consider filling out the form. The site does not share your personal info, and tells you up-front what will happen--a staffer will take your information, call you to discuss talking points, then transfer you to your local Senator. It's about as painless a process as it gets, and believe me, this is really important. Please help if you can.