Thursday, November 29, 2012

and close a chapter, lay to rest the past

[Help] Samantha Walters: I keep crying whenever I hear Closing Time.
[Help] Samantha Walters: It's always the parts about opening the doors and letting you out in the world.
[Help] Samantha Walters: And the other part about the "places you will be from."
[Help] Agent Rosemore: Don't forget "We'll meet again"
[Help] Samantha Walters: Dammit, my eyes are all watery now.
[Help] Blitz Riot: Mass Server group hug!
[Help] Zoey Lovecraft: Badges, Exp, IO...None of it means anything to me any longer. The only thing in this game that truly matters to me is my fellow heroes. I would throw away all of the cosmetics and "stats" just to keep what makes us REALLY stand apart.
[Help] Willow Lambert: Goodbye forever Virtue...

In a day, that will be true.

Recently, I've gotten involved with cStar Skins again. I can't remember exactly where my original objection was to them, but it was something in terms of either template use or similarity in style to someone else. Can't recall just yet, and as the original objection was likely two years ago--and I know for a fact she's wholly revised both her store design and much of her skin line--the original objection, whatever it was, probably no longer matters.

How'ver, something else is going on. This, from the designer's (main, not Platinum) store group:
I was contacted by many loyal followers to cStar Limited about an unfortunate event. That a malicious ex-employee of cStar Limited is abusing the trust and word I was promised by her.
I don't know the name of the employee; I'm not planning on listing it if I do find out. I'd imagine it's easy enough to discover with a little attention to the cStar group, or a group search in SL.
She is now making promises to folks of providing free cStar Limited skins if you join her group and false promises that I will pay you for them. These skins are being giving unlimited as she claims to have created them this is false. She only assembled them by placing the uploaded texture which I paid L$10 each for and she placed them onto a skin under my name. This was her job and she was paid a percentage of sales. She was a trusted employee to cStar Limited and was given rights and access to these skins. She had given me her word that she would not pass them to friends, strangers or resell them then or after employment were to cease.
This is both the most ingenious and the most bafflingly, stone-stick stupid thing I've heard in my life. Not a skin designer trusting someone--there are some very good people devoted to managing and distribution, helping some very good designers on the grid. This is as it should be. But more the whole, turning on that designer, even after an argument, and making quite plain that you're not only lying to that designer's customer base, but deliberately doing everything you can to damage her business. This seems to me the act of someone very petty, small-minded--and extremely short-sighted.

I'm not getting involved beyond posting the contents of Miss Jasmine's notecard; I'm not asking on what the argument was, or how she stopped being a trusted employee; in all honesty, unless the Linden gods are very unkind, she won't be on the grid long enough to matter. But it does seem very odd to me. The whole point of copyright infringement--or so I thought--was for the infringer to cover their tracks enough to sell copies of the main item, without being accused of selling copies. Maximize their profits, and stay making those copies...right?

This is not what seems to have happened. This--just on the surface, by this notecard, and by what I overheard in the main group chat last night--seems to be the insane retaliation of an unstable, vindictive avatar. Which I suppose makes sense, because it's so blatant in terms of the violation, with zero attempt to hide her tracks. It's beyond bizarre.
At these moments, cStar Limited's loyal followers and employees must carry on and not pay any attention to this person because we as a strong family have to remain full of faith, hope and be true to each other.

Today these challenges that are facing us are real. We must be aware that a business in secondlife is not just a game but a lively hood for many content creators in the secondlife community. Our nation in secondlife is at a war. A war of hatred, revenge and theft. The economy in secondlife becomes weakened when these acts occur. When one business is attacked by content theft, should it create a ripple effect and hurts the other bushinesses that the attacked business owner supports financially as a consumer.
Let me pause here and say as much as I'm tempted, I'm not correcting her spelling. Mainly because even with her errors, the original point is valid: there are more people on Second Life now who see it as an easy way to rook people of Lindens than are devoted to making sure the game, as a whole, survives.

And that's upsetting to see. It's demoralizing, and it goes beyond that into devastating when merchants get involved. Customers, after all, can lose their Lindens, lose their items, lose their hearts, depending: but if things go that wrong for a designer, they could potentially lose their homes and their abilities to eat off the grid. That raises the stakes in a truly frightening way.
I come to you today through this letter to let you know that once I was defeated in the past and I closed down my store from this war we are in...but not today! Actions to fight back against this, I can assure you, will be met!

If you were given these skins free by the ex-employee whom first name is [Hxxx] (or any of her alts), I would suggest you to delete them.
Choosing to leave the first letter of the name in, obscuring the rest.
If you had spent any kind of L$ to purchase from this individual or you planned to, you are soon to lose that L$ as these skins are at risk of being removed from your inventories. If you had legitimately purchase any of these skins from cStar Limited's store or directly from me, you are safe as well as your skins.
Because it's become a thing to trade for free or for the purchase price the limited-edition zodiac skins of a month, I should also make plain that in-group trading, or buying skins set out on the group-only platform above cStar, counts as legitimate "purchases" for the terms she's discussing here.
This act does not help bring down the prices of cStar Skins, but it only hurts the individuals that have legitimately paid for these skins and hope to sell them in the future at a higher value on their own or through renting a cStar Limited Platform.

Here is how YOU can take action! Many of my skins are transfer permissions, however, this ex-employee had in the past access to these skins with full trust. So you do not want to purchase these skins. She has them unlimited and if you purchasing them it does not take them away from her. Next, do not join her groups she creates. Be sure to mute her and her alts so you are no longer disturbed or at risk of being conned. All official cStar groups can be found ONLY in profiles of; AppleSpiceStore Resident, cStarLimited Resident and Unico Solo. Please contact Christiana Xevion should you be suspicious of any behavior found through any other groups, accounts or Residents. Also contact Christiana Xevion if you were given a cStar Skins from someone you do not know.
Also choosing to leave these names in as they're all accounts directly aligned with cStar Limited.
Then, report the person that has sent you that group invite to their unofficial cStar group as well as that group owner. I too have begun to make my reports, but the more reports made, should it help make the actions stronger. Also, alt accounts of this ex-employee are unknown. I would suggest you to hold caution with whom you communicate with about cStar Skins and transactions being made and please report all suspicious behavior to Christiana Xevion.

cStar Skins have been made with Transfer rights back in 2010 so you can have the rights to sell, trade or gift your cStar Skins as you please. Any skin that is NOT stolen content is encourage for you to sell however you like! You can open your own marketplace to sell your cStar Transfer skins! Even use my store to rent a platform at a very low fee of L$100/week to sell directly to my customers! You get more visual promotion that lead to a high percentage chance of sales for yourself! The difference here with the ex-employee is she did not collect her skins off the lucky board, MM, gatcha or through purchasing like you have.
I will say--especially considering the high cost of many of her individual skins--I've always liked that they're transferable. No-copy anything is always chancy, but even with the instability of the current grid, my biggest concern has always been furniture, not skins, in terms of the sim glitching and eating things I have rezzed out.
cStar Limited as become strengthened by all of your love and loyalty and I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for your great support and courage! It's time to move forward into a wonderful new year in 2013! No plans are being changed by this and this is only a minor speedbump for cStar Limited!

Happy Holidays and let's stay positive with love in our hearts!
Jasmine - AppleSpiceStore Resident
cStar Limited Skins
Now, that's a sentiment I can definitely get behind.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

baby, you're lost, baby you're a lost cause

[Help] Natures Furry: I have the 30th off and plan to play like...its the end of the world and I know it

Wednesday, November 28th, I logged in to City of Heroes for the last Wednesday strike force ever. In two days, the game will be gone.

(from the City of Heroes album; the crumbling of Alastair's tower)

[SuperGroup] Your supergroup owes 1900 Prestige in base upkeep by 12/02 04: 07 PM

And yet, the hits just keep coming. So many people over the weekend just stopped logging in. They gutted their bases, or had already done so at the start of November, so at this point, their bases cannot be accessed. I doubt anyone's going to get around to paying our base's upkeep, because seriously, locking our base from use in December, when the entire game leaves on November 30th? I mean really, what does it matter?

But more than that is how quiet the game is, now.

We've tried everything we know to do. We've talked to every company we can think of--several of whom made offers. (These were all, as far as we know, rejected by NCSoft out of hand.) It's feeling very, very close kin to the fight to keep Firefly on the air, and how passionately we as fans fought for that show--to the point that once it had become obvious that the show was gone, many fans joined their energies to local, domestic and international charity efforts. Because if they were going to keep fighting, then damn it, they'd keep fighting for something that would matter.

To this day, there are Browncoats giving to charity by selling merchandise, by showing up in costume for live auctions, by writing stories, songs, and essays no longer just about the show, but all of it started with that passion, that sense of unity and understanding, we had gained by seeing Mal Reynolds in that moment in Serenity Valley, knowing all hope was lost, and fighting anyway.

Because sometimes we have to fight forces bigger than us. Because sometimes, even if we lose--maybe especially if we lose--it's still important to fight. Even lost causes teach us things about ourselves, our fellow beings, and the importance, sometimes, of following our hearts.

Doesn't make these last moments any less depressing.

To that end--and it's not that I don't know why this is happening--I've been finding it very, very hard to log in to Second Life. I'm dragging my feet on even going in just long enough to clear emails and IMs. There are three reasons for this (in simple terms, loss, heartbreak and viewer dysfunction being those three reasons), but that doesn't make the struggle any less painful, either.

Now, Kouse's Sanctum--among others--starting their Advent Calendar offerings on December 1st will help with this. Far be it from me to pass up the opportunity to own such gorgeous holiday-themed things--especially since I lost all my other holiday stuph when my seasonal folder holding all of them evaporated.

And, weirdly, once City of Heroes can't be logged into--once it's firmly out of the hinterland of maybe-we-can-save-it into let's-see-what-we-still-have might be a little easier to log into other games. Right now, I'm too frustrated, upset, hurt and angry to deal with anything but Minecraft, and even Minecraft I'm playing solo.

In the meantime, people are still pondering where they want to be when the servers kick everyone out of the world:

[Help] Uncyste Scinn: I vote for Pocket D. Everyone needs to act happy and party it up so it doesn't hurt so bad.
[Help] I L L Y R I A: No, no Pocket D for me. I will end my time atop the statue of Atlas when the servers go dark

It is a big enough statue. Wonder how many of us can crowd on top as the world dissolves?

[Help] Ben Alternating: what time does the servers shut down on 11-30?
[Help] Luminary Eclipse: 11:59:59pm PST

Some are saying this is actually not midnight on November 30th, but midnight on November 29th, because NCSoft is calling the shots from Korea. I honestly don't know, but I know people--possibly including me--will be gathering about an hour before midnight...just in case.

[Help] Alice Malice: I still think the hill in Talos sounds like a better place for a last stand, but so long as we are taking out Rikti Drop ships, I am there
[Help] Aerianne Connor: There's always last-minute evac at Portal Corp, I suppose.

Not my fave, but as things go, I suppose it would be better to hang out at Portal Corps than in Mercy Isles:

(from the City of Heroes album; residents of Mercy Isles being evacuated...willingly or not)

At least at Portal Corps, they're used to evacuations. Rikti raids have happened so often over the past eight years that their employees move like clockwork towards the safe zones.

By contrast, those lined up to be led to evacuation vessels in Grandville seem puzzled, angry and scared, alternately. And who can blame them? Living in the darksome maddened star of the Mercy Isles, in the single most fortressed and over-protected (armaments-wise) city in the entire chain; living, essentially, in the heart of Lord Recluse's domain...and they have to leave? Where are they going to go?

It doesn't help that many of us, months later, are still asking that question. Where are we going to go? And what game, for the rest of our lives, will not be held up to the increasingly distorted glow of City's nostalgia?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

second time around, I'm still believing the words that you said

I bring you a heartwarming story of what might be the (currently) most amazing fan engagement ring ever. If you're a Star Wars fan, or a wedding fan, you won't want to miss it.

There's a petition going around for Linden Lab. No idea if it'll result in appreciable change--oh, who am I kidding, it won't--but I do find some of the text in the petition interesting. I quote:
Due to company detachment from its customer base and a failing abuse reporting system Second Life has become a product where its clients are repeatedly victimized while thieves thrive.
See, I can't really deny this one. This is exactly what it feels like. There's this initial reaction of "why bother" when we come across yet another scam from some (usually new) avatar on SL. It used to be these were huge and startling events, and word spread quickly, and everyone was on their guard...then one av stole an entire hair line, another stole an entire sim, and now it's every damn day, it seems like.
Because Linden Lab is enforcing its policy in such a way that the act of reporting a crime puts an honest victim at immediate risk of punishment while the perpetrator of the crime is often using a disposable alt on illegal software while IP jumping, the product, Second Life, is becoming a haven for those who prefer crime over imagination.
Here's where we run into problems, because what the petition seeks to redress is a legally established chain of circumstances which Linden Lab has neither control to change, nor desire to change. Copyright law ain't their purview, per se; they just do their best to enforce what they can, when they get correct complaints.

But for anyone who knows, it basically goes like this: Avatar A complains against Avatar B. As Avatar A rarely has Avatar B's real name, this is often done using a combination of their avatar name--which is usually some combination of numbers and "Resident" anyway--followed by mention of their main business and/or store location. (So, say, LL would get a letter accusing "sweetsubbeh1949567 Resident" who has "Subbeh Hair" on the Marketplace, and has the "Subbeh Hair D-Zigns" store in Golden Shoals. The Linden who receives this, if the form is accurately filled out, will put an operation injunction against "subbeh", who--if she chooses to--will retaliate by turning in a challenge form of her own.

Here's the trick they're talking about: the original DMCA cease-and-desist form can go out to the avatar name, and the business name they're doing business under on the grid. How'ver, when the challenge form comes in, because it is a legal document primarily used to establish territorial lines between Corporation A and Corporation B, it will ask for the business address that Corporation A operates from.
Now, in the case of corporations, this will likely be ABC Box Company, 1212 17th Street, South Gables, FL, with the accompanying telephone number, emails, fax lines, or whatever. Because it's a business address, and public domain, there's no issue with giving out the information, because that's for the other company's legal department anyway.

But most businesses in SL operate out of their homes. So instead of getting an address in an industrial district, they'll get Susie Jones-Haddington, say, on 2920 Fourth Street, Burnt Needle, Oklahoma or something.

It's important to remember: this is not a flaw, this is more of a feature. Why? Because the entire DMCA procedure, start to finish, is a legal construction developed to allow corporations to challenge corporations. There's no need for the challenging company to have the challenged company's corporate information: they already have it in order to make the challenge. At that point, it's just a matter of exchanging Corporate Office Info A for Corporate Office Info B--or, more importantly, getting Legal in both places to start talking to each other.

But in SL, this is not the way it works. Because DMCA was never intended to be used by private citizens, ever, there are severe gaps in the process when applied to non-incorporated entities.
After high profile cases showing Linden Lab refusing to reimburse a customer for loss of funds due to the company's failure to address this new crime wave, or their jump to permanently ban a very prominent designer from his intellectual property, many victims are refusing to share their own stories, allowing the criminals more freedom to victimize Linden Lab customers while growing even more confident that they will never be punished for their crimes.
I know about Maxwell Graf's unhappiness with just that, to the point where he eventually returned his sim in utter frustration because it seemed like a poor investment to pay a company for a section of virtual real estate with zero safeguards against IP infringement.

He's not the only one, and it's just as frustrating to have smaller things cloned and redistributed by unsavory alts. Part of the problem is how easy it is, still, to do; but to be absolutely fair to the technology involved, another part of the problem really does come down to people who don't know enough about the tech they're using. Only since last year, I believe, was any serious headway made with adding watermarks, trademark notes, or even lifted logos in the margins of digital work by more than a handful of designers. (I'll toss sculpt makers the exception; most of them began by adding watermarks to their designs.)
When customers of Linden Lab are harmed by another's violation of the corporation's TOS, the company's customer service is unacceptable, telling those who support Linden Lab to file an ineffective abuse report. If a customer reports a crime via an abuse report, they risk being treated like a criminal themselves or being banned from their own intellectual property without any explanation. The company refuses to reimburse customers for funds lost due to the fact that the corporation is negligent when it comes to enforcing its own terms of service.
While I understand the upset--and even the anger--the petition writers have, this is not the way to accomplish things. I think it's really going to come down to another major law suit, with a ton of bad press attached, for the Lindens to wake up and address some of these issues.

When we consider that Linden Lab has, as of 2012, no accredited standing with the Better Business Bureau because of one hundred and forty-three complaints filed against the company over the past three years alone, we've moved beyond anything a petition can solve.

In other news, Google's taking on a couple different tacks for the future, in tech news. First, they're trying to set up their own cellphone network, but also, they're making an augmented reality game. I'm thinking, Idea A for the cell network would work really well with Idea B (the game).

And what can you do with mesh and sculpts? This comes to mind. For more information on the creation of that image, go to Victor Hugo's website which has a ton of really interesting details.

Monday, November 19, 2012

they find it all, a different story

(from the Charity efforts album)
So...Desert Bus is this week!

(Ooh, sneaky blog, trying to unfix my fixes! Link works now.)

I've talked about this before, which still stands as a pretty good summation of why the Loading Ready Run crew does what they do, and why they play this silly thing, and why they stay up all hours to urge the internet to give them money--which they then turn over to every last dime to Child's Play. It's a great cause and a great charity and Desert Bus, every single year, stands as a monument to the care and craft and sincerity that geeks can bring to things that really matter to us.

How'ver--and tossing in a slight amount of the RL into this--for the past six weeks one of my loves has been in another state, in intensive physical therapy, learning to walk again. It's been hard, grueling work, but she's gone from being able to hold herself upright, using the parallel bars, assisted by a physical therapist, for one minute, to slowly walking with a walker, unassisted, for 750 steps (when last contacted).

It's not that this doesn't hurt her, or that her legs still aren't massively dysfunctional--because it does, and they are. Sooner or later, the degeneration in her spine will likely remove her ability to walk, ever. But the point of this is not to get her "normal"; the point is to give her the tools, and strengthen her body, so that she can push past the pain she needs to to help her live her life.

In addition, I've been trying to write to the daily word count for NaNoWriMo (I am dismally failing, btw), and--this week--trying to sort through massive amounts of collated recipes in magazines I've been saving and links online, for the things we want to bring for Thanksgiving with the family.

So...busy few weeks. Mostly spent traveling interstate and spending far too long on various buses and shuttles, and did I mention how that ties back in to Desert Bus?

It's a crazy, crazy week-plus on the internet. If you're interested in really fun charities, check them out. If you're not sure, check out Desert Bus' Flickr stream for photos (mostly this year), or if you're feeling really daring, check out Desert Bus' YouTube feed. (I would highly recommend the Snuggie Cultists or the Power Thirst commercial, among others.)

Or if you're really feeling daring, you can stop by my Tumblr, or hey, maybe a better option (because occasionally there is still NSFW content on my Tumblr, because reasons) is to go to Tumblr and search either "Desert Bus" or "Desert Bus for Hope". TONS of stuph will show up, much of it mine, but also other people, and if NONE of it convinces you to watch and cheer them on and toss them money, then obviously, this is Not Your Thing.

Which is okay, too, but seriously, every dime Desert Bus makes goes to support sick children. Which is a really good thing to do. And it proves the internet is actually a very caring and supportive place. (Which we need to hear more about, because usually we hear "the internet" and we think of rage-filled misogynists.)

So, that explains why I never got back to the whole Tony Harris teardown--I want to, I have the entry partially done, I have another two entries partially done, but travel+writing+Desert Bus has eaten my ability to blog.

Friday, November 16, 2012

reminiscing other times of life

We grieve for everything we lose. In the end, our memories can become treasured bits of knowledge gained, experiences which we are grateful to have had, in spite of the cost.

That doesn't make it hurt any less at times.

Do you really like bacon? Do you have more money than you know how to spend? Do you like scarves? Are you in Europe?

If the answer to these four questions is yes, then go look at the bacon scarf by artist Natalie Luder. It's 100% silk crèpe de Chine, is digitally printed with a black border (which is then hand-hemmed by the artist), and retails for around $170 (US; local currency conversion might be necessary). There's a list of shops still carrying it at the bottom of the article.

Libraries are important. Libraries are also losing funding. At least one six-year-old thinks keeping libraries open is more important than her allowance fund. I know $11 seems like a tiny amount, but seriously--she just donated her entire savings to the Seattle Library.

Seen in that light, that's huge.

And there's a crafting blog out there that's come out with one of the most disturbing culture/craft mash-ups ever: Barbie the Weeping Angel. I am stunned at how good that looks, and also not entirely sure I could make my own version and leave her out anywhere visible.

[14:25] jxxxx Jxxxxxxxx: Get 2500$L Just Pass 1 Survey [phishing link removed] Click, Login And Get 2500$L !!!
[14:25] Exxxxxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: NO NO No.
[14:25] Cxxxxx Dxxxx: let me jump right on that....
[14:26] Axxxxxxxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: This is getting onto every group
[14:26] Dxxxxxx Mxxxxxx: people like you [Jxxxx] account user is why I hate people
[14:26] Exxxxxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: i know. i see at least three now
[14:26] Emilly Orr: Welcome to my mute list.

These days, I seriously don't have the patience. Where it practically took personal threats of harm a few years back to make me mute someone, I no longer have the energy to invest. I'd rather just block them and move on.

[14:26] ⒾⒸⒺ (4xxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx): scammmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well...yes. There are gentles on the grid who see an offer like this and don't immediately think it's a scam?

[14:27] fxxxxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx : go away just click close chat ! click close and leave it realy works! :D
[14:28] Emma Krokus: if you have clicked and logged in, change your password right now

Though, on the off-chance that someone WAS foolish enough to click the link, this is always good advice. If it seems at all suspicious, and you've done something boneheaded like click on a phishing link and enter your SL info...pull up the main SL site and CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD IMMEDIATELY.

[14:28] Jxxxx Jxxxxx: Didn't I read somewhere that websites with a .tk are usually hacking websites?

Well...sort of. The basic problem in a nutshell: there is a small island chain off the coast of New Zealand called Tokelau. It's home to 1,400 people...and a free domain registration site. It's not, per se, that this domain service sets out to defraud. But, because of the sheer tonnage of criminals that use the service--because of the free domain name service--it's gotten a bad reputation that it doesn't seem likely to lose any time soon.

Add to this the fact that they run an URL reduction service side by side with domain registration, and the .tk extension pretty much drops into toxic web terrain. Some of their users are legitimate; but since the vast majority aren't, this leads to image problems. This particular avatar was decanted in 2008, so they really should know better. But more than that, the profile is confusing. From the bio:
Louis Henri was born at Versailles, the eldest son of Louis de Bourbon and Louise Françoise de Bourbon, the eldest legitimised daughter of King Louis XIV and his favourite, Madame de Montespan.

He was the great-grandson of Louis de Bourbon, le Grand Condé, who died in 1686, and was addressed to as Monsieur le Duc, this style applying specifically the head of the House of Bourbon-Condé.

He was Louis XV's Prime Minister (Premier Ministre) from 1723 to 1726.
And from their RL bio:
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty. Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma.
They're also a member of the Caledon land group, which could indicate either land holdings in Caledon, or land holdings in an allied nation.

So seriously, what gives? Was their account hacked? Was this someone else discovering this account was open to claim? Was a friend over at their house who decided it would be fun to rook people? I don't think anyone knows.


[14:31] Dxxxxxx Mxxxxxx: why should anyone have to mute an individual account prolly hijacked by this piece of crap anyway, when LL does nothing to take care of cleaning up this mess?

It's a good question, but an inaccurate one. The problem is that Linden Lab is not responsible for chat in world--that's even in the ToS officially. While they can--and do, frequently--act on complaints of griefing and harassment, all they really can do officially is boot the avatars they discover directly, and otherwise leave warnings on their blog about hacking/phishing attempts.

Which they've done more than once.

[14:37] Mxxxxx Yxxxxxxx: scammers are busy this week... must be trying to get money for the holidays, lol
[14:37] cxxxx Nxxxxxxx: ?
[14:38] Emilly Orr: There's at least one spammer hitting all the groups they're in, and likely more than one. It's been irritating.
[14:38] Mxxxxx Yxxxxxxx: that russian one and now there's one that looks like it might be from Turkey

And now this one, who seems to be either part of a Versailles roleplay group, or just interested in French history. Confusing.

All I can say is to reiterate: if it seems like an absurd sum of money, it's a scam. Don't click the link, just drive on by.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

my smile was taken long ago

In the midst of reconstruction efforts for the blog--and covering gender bias at conventions--a fundraiser to help Eku Zhong pay for needed medical aid (specifically in the form of a partial skull prosthesis to replace a fragile part of her skull) has been set up. There's also an IndieGoGo fund, for donations off SL, which to my mind had an absurdly small goal, considering this is for a surgical replacement of her damaged zygomatic arch.

(from the Charity efforts album; one of the Unhinged event posters)

The zygomatic arch is a relatively small bone structure, all things considered--when looking at a skull dead on it's generally what our minds comprehend as cheekbones, and its main purpose is both support for the detached jaw, and as the major fastening point for the zygomaticus major tendon set. I realize that this is a lot of information, but I'll let Nephilaine Protagonist explain why this is important to know:
Over the last seven years, literally countless surgeries, radiation therapies, bone replacements and marrow transplants later, the stress of repeated surgeries has left her skull fragile and yet more surgery is needed.

The area where her zygotic arch [sic] meets the temporal bone is severely compromised.

Literally there is a risk that her zygotic arch [sic] could lift off the temporal arch and push the temporal bone into her brain. Actions as simple as chewing hard food or yawning the wrong way could cause this.

There is hope. Another surgery could correct this issue, but it requires the purchase of a prosthesis to replace the damaged bone. This is where myself and a group of people who love her dearly come in, and you as well should you choose to help out.
Now, I want to make this plain: this is a small bone structure, which has become fragile and susceptible to fracture, in the skull of Ehu Zhong. Because of the tendon placement, the zygomaticus major tendon (and its companion, the zygomaticus minor) could pull with sufficient force to snap it off, or break its current angle. That snap could--and in her case, quite likely will--cause damage to the temporal bone, driving it into the side of the brain--and potentially causing death as a result.

What could cause this? Because of this specific tendon/bone pairing, any of these actions could now, potentially, with no exaggeration, lead to her death or further injury:
  1. chewing hard food
  2. yawning widely
  3. smiling widely (because of the zygomaticus major tendon)
Add to that the further impact of the zygomaticus minor (which is responsible for sad facial expressions) and you've got a woman who's medically been told eating, being overtired, or having any facial expression at all could kill her.

That's really, really scary.

The (slim) good news in all of this: the IndiGoGo donation effort will be funded on December 3rd. But remember I said it had an absurdly small goal? Her medical costs already are stunning; this would be further pressure on her income (nearly all of which, I believe, is from SL).

Here's where the gacha donation festival comes in. They've already got a dizzying number of merchants contributing to this, and it's going to run for the next thirty days--essentially today to December 15th. Frankly, if you can't find some merchant there you don't like, you're seriously not trying.

In addition, Dare Munro of Dare Designs has issued a gentle challenge: he's personally tossed in L$15,000 (about $60 US on average, depending on the day) to the fund, and he's asking merchants who want to contribute to match or exceed his funds. Yeah, that's a chunk of RL income, but it's about the cost of a mid-range dinner for two, or snacks and an evening movie for three at most theatres. Plus, the more merchants toss in on this challenge, the faster Eku's looming operation becomes simply a life-saving procedure, and not more crippling medical debt.

It's not a fee for entry; they're still taking folks who want to donate time, Lindens, or items to the event. Think of it more as a suggestion, because this is that important.

You can track down the festival at Port Seraphine, and for the run of it there will be gachas, parties, music and DJs keeping everyone moving. Give what you can; participate how you feel drawn to do. And if you can't do either, at least mention the Unhinged site on your feeds. (And there's a ton of official bloggers doing just that, with rundowns of the event, product pictures, and further information if you need it.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

a vine that can strangle life from a tree

I posted something really, really long yesterday; it's now two parts, the first and the second, for easier mental digestion. But, as this entire controversy dealt with two men, I really should mention him as well.

But first, more comments from the original article:

From "Anonymous" (really, at this point, who's surprised no one wants to tie their reputations to a fairly indefensible position?):
I don't believe that his word choice was meant to demean women, more it was chosen in a colloquial manner to express anger at a certain type of woman. By no means am I defending or condoning the choice, I am simply stating that it is like people choosing to use "faggot" or "retarded" as an insult. While it is wildly incorrect and insensitive, unfortunately, it is how the word has evolved in our society.
Yeah, so...about this.

To a certain extent he's right. Words evolve, meanings change. For example, if I refer to all this insanity as "hysteria", obviously I don't mean the term to refer specifically and solely to a woman so emotionally unbalanced that her desire for sex has taken over what small amount of brain-power she has. (Seriously, that's what it used to mean.)

How'ver, therein reveals the essential problem of oppressive language, doesn't it? If men call women "whore", it's obvious they don't mean she's literally selling herself; they just mean it as an insult, okay?

Which I suppose is fine on the face of it, until we give it any amount of consideration at all. Speaker A may not have meant to use "whore" as a pejorative to describe Speaker B; but its use as an insult means Speaker A means to insult Speaker B. By choosing that word over other words, that word must carry the meaning Speaker A means to convey.

It may not have been what he meant to say, but it's what he did say. Argument null due to logic loop.

(Just for reference, that tends to work the same way with other pejorative terms: "dude, that is so gay" or "stop being a fag"...seriously, most of the offhand insults in American society come down to two states: don't be gay followed by don't be female. In the hierarchy, it goes: straight men; gay men; straight women; lesbians. Because gay men are presumptively lower than straights; but still above straight women because they're still tacitly male.)

From that same poster:
I guess what I'm saying is that while crude and insensitive the meme is not addressing female nerds saying "get the hell out", but rather the imposters that use stereotypical props like black face to degrade us as a whole (once again, not condoning or defending, merely stating).


What? No, seriously, what? Okay, so first, we're impostors if we're female, originally, but now, it's only those of us who use "stereotypical props" like...WHEN DID BLACKFACE BECOME A PROP?

Another "Anon" speaks up:
"Whore," for me, is anybody - male or female - who tries to portray themselves in some way to get attention. Beautiful, buff, geek-chic, ironic... whores, one and all.
It's good to know your definitions are so internally limiting...and nothing even close to what the word actually means.

But Manning isn't the only one catching heat for this. There's another fellow whose brain dropped out and bounced on the floor earlier. Again, it all started on Facebook. To wit:
"Hey! Quasi-Pretty-NOT-Hot-Girl, you are more pathetic than the REAL Nerds, who YOU secretly think are REALLY PATHETIC. But we are onto you. Some of us are aware that you are ever so average on a daily basis. But you have a couple things going your way. You are willing to become almost completely Naked in public, and yer either skinny( Well, some or most of you, THINK you are ) or you have Big Boobies. Notice I didnt say GREAT Boobies? You are what I refer to as 'CON-HOT'."
Okay, there's so much more to this incoherent rant, but I'm taking this small section for slight dissection.

What he actually means:
  1. "You're not as hot as you think you are."
  2. "Real nerds are pathetic."
  3. "You think we're more pathetic than you are, but YOU'RE the pathetic one."
  4. "When you're not in costume, you're barely attractive."
  5. "You're a slut because you're wearing almost nothing in public."
  6. "You're fat."
  7. "You have really large boobs, but they're also not attractive."
  8. "Really, you're only hot because you're trapped in a hotel with a bunch of socially awkward fanboys with access to alcohol."
When he woke up this morning, this is really the impression he wanted to leave people with? That anyone who's remotely attractive can't be a geek? That anyone with any shame wouldn't dress like female cosplayers do? That female cosplayers are ugly, and contemptuous of con attendees? Really?

Isn't this like poisoning the water you're planning to drink? Essentially, when Harris' total work output is designed to be read by comics fans, and not all comics fans are male...this could severely cut into his income.

Add to that the absolute gall of the man...Gods alone know which female actually extracted this nugget of hardened bile from him. But his first attack, out of the gate, is pretty much a reminder that (whoever she was), she's failed at the single most important task of all women, everywhere: that of being pretty and sexually available (without, you know, being a "slut") to any potentially interested male.

There's so much wrong in that kind of thinking, I can't even properly break it down without resorting to flailing.

There's a great little article I want to send folks to read, and mostly because the text, while good, is made more impressive by some perfectly targeted graphics. Go for the graphics, stay for the summation, is my opinion.

But just to run down some basic concepts here...would anyone call any of these cosplayers "fake nerds", or just posing for the attention they'll get? What about Miracole Burns? Granted, it takes a bit of panache to carry off costumes like Ms. Marvel's, that are heavy on leg exposure...but she does it. She's done it for a lot of different costume properties--in fact, she's a professional model and makeup artist. But as she herself would mention, she's also an "uber-nerd", so...where's the dividing line between genuine geek, female edition, and poser geek, model edition?

I had every intention of exploring this a bit in this entry, but you know what? I think that deserved an entirely separate entry on its own. So expect more of this ranting to come!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

carrion, surrounding, picking on leaves (part II)

(Continued from part I earlier)

Picking up where we left off, a comment from yet another "Anonymous":
The meme states that if all you've done are X and Y, you are not Z. It doesn't say what the requirements for being Z are, because that's irrelevant. Someone who's ONLY done X and Y hasn't done/been anything else that would make them Z.
Huh. Well, going back to the original meme, then, we'd get this:

Dear girls...So...yes. We are female. Okay. With you so far.
who take pictures in slutty clothingWell, some of us do that too. Some of us are actually sluts. Also, there are male sluts as well as female sluts now, though I'm fairly sure you're speaking solely about the female ones. Who then take pictures. Of wearing the slutty clothing.
and glassesSome of us wear glasses, yes. But again, this makes me think you're speaking about women who wear glasses in these photos with the slutty clothing who don't wear glasses normally. Which is weird to me--how do you tell someone doesn't normally wear glasses?
and label the caption "nerd LOL":Okay. First real complaint. And this, I will say, is frequently my complaint on the blog about people (of either gender) on the internet in general. I call them "LOLpeople", which in its own way, is just as dismissive, but in my case, I'm not basing it on gender of person, or portrayal of social group, but intelligence. (As in, I think people who use phrases like that--"OMG he broke up with me lol"/"nerd LOL"/"ya you look great lol"--are, overall, just not that bright.)
you're not a nerd;See, do you get to decide that? And even putting my prejudice aside, simply saying "I'm a nerd" automatically means you're not one? How does that work?
you're a whoreI know I'm being literal about this, but seriously, if the woman in question isn't actually exchanging sex for money, SHE'S NOT A WHORE.
who found glassesI doubt there are any figures on how many whores wear glasses, versus not, and it's not like that was your point anyway. But based on this breakdown, your entire point seems to be partially "hot girls don't wear glasses" with a brief embellishment of "stop pretending you know me". And wau, does that come off as hostile on your part.

(I had to link that last one because her glasses actually SAID "Whore"; it was from Annie Galicia's blog on the Whore Couture Fair in SL.)

But does this really tell us anything we didn't know? It may not have been the intent of Manning to paint things this bleakly; in point of fact, he's done everything since this whole thing blew up to make the point that he doesn't believe the things that this one image portrays, and he's been daunted by the amount of press that's linking his name and misogyny.

Speaking's "Anonymous" again:
Some of us just don't want the stream of abuse we get from some of the people on your side. Having a name/pseudonym on something doesn't change the content of that thing. Attack the stance, not the poster.
Now, in that point specifically--that of attacking the stance, not the poster, or put another way, revile the idea, not the idiot with the idea--I do tend to agree. We are creatures that label, and it's very, very easy for us to connect things in this way. We see John Doe saying something we don't believe in and make the immediate connection that John Doe is wrong wrong wrong and likely evil and might sleep with chickens and could look at internet porn involving squid and marmalade, and do our best to march in with this sense of offended scorn and lay waste to the man named John Doe, and not to what Doe actually put down in print.

But here's the problem inherent in that comment, too--while we want to keep our communications clear, at some point, if someone says something racist, something misogynistic (or misandric), something that, at the end of the day, is designed to incite or offend or ridicule or insult a particular person or group of persons...Well, yes, obviously what was actually said wasn't good, but at least a little ire should be pointed towards the person saying the thing.

To advocate anything less is to diminish our social responsibility in public spaces. And unfortunately, if you paste it on your Facebook wall? You're posting in a public space. There is zero expectation of privacy.

carrion, surrounding, picking on leaves (part I)

Near as I can figure, all the drama started here, with author Dirk Manning's afterthought of a Facebook meme post:

(from the media album; the teddy that roared)

Okay. On the face of it, purely as a rational notation: humor is variable. Some folks are offended by the same things that others find funny. I personally can't stand the "Scary Movie" style of cinema, in all its infinite, over-the-top parodying-the-parodies splendor; there are others who think they're the height of comedy, and joyfully lay down stacks of cash to own the DVDs and associated merchandise. There is cruel, biting humor out there. There are racist and sexist jokes clad in the thin veneer of 'hey, don't be so sensitive, we're just kidding'.

I get all that. It was a meme, he found it funny, he posted it, people got offended...I get how it worked, a to b to c.

That's not my issue.

My issue was in the comments, afterwards. In Mariah Huehner's open letter to Manning, she had this to say:
I'm disappointed to see you perpetuating the "Fake Geek/Nerd Girl" meme. Sure, it's a repost, but what we choose to share on our social platforms matters. You've endorsed the underlying sentiment of the meme, to the degree that you feel that women who aren't "real" nerds by your definition are "objectifying themselves", pandering to a lowest common denominator, and therefore it's okay to imply, based on how objectionable you find the word "whore" to be in this context, less-than for the sake of humor.
Now, in that entire article, she was disappointed; she was offering her (constructive) understanding of the situation; and she was pointing out the dangers inherent in holding to that position. To wit:
I'm sure it seems harmless and "fun" on the surface, but memes like this are indicative of a much larger and much more problematic attitude within geek culture. Namely: if we don't like how (specifically) a woman/girl identifies as a nerd, or displays their nerdery, based on rather arbitrary & subjective definitions of what being a "real nerd" is, we can label them a whore/slut/fake.
This is a real danger. While I do think much of our society has gone too far over the politically correct cliff, to avoid these potential problems by neutering all dialogue (thereby removing even polite possibilities to debate and dissent), at the same time we need to remain aware of what we're saying.

Another point from her response I want to raise:
What, exactly, is dressing "slutty"? Who defines that, you? Me? How does being a fashion model exclude someone from also being nerdy? Why is it different when a girl poses in a costume then when a guy does? How much cleavage is "too much"? Is being conventionally attractive enough to justify people being suspicious? How are these things mutually exclusive to being a nerd? What criteria must we meet to be a considered a "real" nerd? What are the parameters? Do I go by your definition of "slutty" and "pandering" or some other random internet poster? What about my own definition, does that not count? How long do I have to be a nerd in order to be a "real" one? What nerd activities must I participate in? Can I like Lord of the Rings and not Superman?
These are really, really good questions. I'm thinking that a debate based around these questions alone, let alone everything else she said, would have real merit for geek culture and understanding.

So what were the ragtag crew of geek men saying after Ms. Huehner's letter?

From "Anonymous" (AKA, coward who wasn't going to sign his real name):
Damn bitch, get over yourself you pretentious twat!
Gosh, how insightful.

From "Anonymous" again:
A couple months ago I was at a party where a very attractive (alternative) girl my friend just started dating noticed my Marvel shirt and said "Hey I like comics. I know more about comics than you". I didn't really respond, but a few minutes later she repeated her love for comics so I tried to start a conversation. It went nowhere. The girl didn't know much and rather was more interested in challenging my knowledge than having a discussion. The most intelligible thing she said was "I like Dark Horse" which actually doesn't even make sense since DH has no real brand identity. I brought up many titles across the spectrum of comics and the only she had any clue about was "The Goon" (which admittedly, I've never read).
This one still slays me. Breaking down exactly what he's saying:
  • He went to a party with an attractive girl his friend was dating.
  • She started to talk comics, and he got offended because she started to talk comics.
  • He questioned her for a short time and determined--based on her mentions of a) comics he'd never read and b) Dark Horse as a publisher--that she was stupid, and thus could be sneeringly dismissed.
I have to wonder if he went into the conversation to start with prepared to dismiss anything she knew because she was female, and thus, "not a geek".

From "Anonymous" again:
We're extremely protective of our territory, and yes, we do lash out at outsiders who want to assimilate, but that's because of the rise of nerd culture of the last decade. Is a problem? Sure. Is it sexist? Probably not.
Who declares who's an outsider? What are the rules? And he's saying this is "probably not" sexist? Really?

Maybe if he's speaking purely as a male, he might see this entire debate as not sexist...but then he's artificially restricting yourself to just men, like him, who identify themselves as geeks, with the same general subset of culturalization and skills, and deliberately excluding anyone who's not like him--which would include women, plus anyone who doesn't match his race, his religion, your sexuality, your personal likes and dislikes...How consummately boring that would be.

From yet another "Anonymous":
Again, noble you're standing up for women in comics, but really, you should be on "our" side defending the citadel from the barbarians that simply want to share in our glory.
And now we're barbarians. Well, I suppose it's a step up from "whores", but still.
(Now continued in part II.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

my feelings swell and stretch; I see from greater heights

While this is far from my usual style, with the Hostess union strike well underway--and looking like Hostess seems likelier to close up shop than pay its debtors honestly (most of whom, also honesty, are the pensioners who will be shorted devastatingly for their decades of service to the company)--I've had a couple friends bemoan the loss of Hostess products.

I'm not a sugar junkie, but I've been trying to track down homemade alternatives, or similar products, for those who may find themselves in need.
  • Homemade banana snack cakes
  • Homemade Butterscotch Krimpets
  • Homemade Chocodiles
  • Homemade chocolate Swiss Rolls
  • Homemade Devil Dogs
  • Homemade Ding-Dongs
  • Making your own Donettes can be tricky, but if you're in a part of the world that has Entenmann's baked goods, you can find a comparable prefab donut. There are also some good, (relatively) easy donut hole recipes, in chocolate and plain cake--here's a deep-fried cake variant, and here's a fancier baked cake variant. And here's one that omits frying entirely, choosing to bake them in muffin tins instead. You get UFO-shaped things that are closer to zeppoles over hole-in-the-middle donuts, but seriously, are you going to care?
  • Homemade fruit pies have their own section, because I found so damned many. So see below.
  • Homemade Ho-Hos
  • Made-from-mix honey bun cakes
  • Homemade Peanut butter 'Kandy Kakes'
  • Homemade Raspberry Zingers
  • Homemade Sno-Balls are a little tricky--so here's a complex version, here's one that seems simpler, but requires an icing tube for the marshmallow frosting, and this one changes things up a bit and involves a small amount of espresso powder (which was so bizarre as an ingredient, I had to look it up. Basically, anywhere you can use espresso powder, you can just use vanilla instead--cooks use it primarily as a flavor punch for chocolate and cocoa, not for any specific coffee flavor.)
  • Homemade Susie-Qs
  • Homemade Twinkies
  • Homemade Zebra cakes
Now then! The hand pie section! I've included mostly sweet, but a few savory (because I'm a Cornish pastie fan, can't help it):
Hope that helps.

And for more fun, make your own Pop-tarts.

you'll never hear the message I give

Explore the world of reverse graffiti. Basically, instead of arming themselves with cans of spray pain and stencils, street artists are turning the tables and instead, removing accumulated dirt, smog, mold, whatever, to reveal artistically-arranged clean surfaces. Personally, I'm among those who think that graffiti, executed with style and grace, is as much of an art form as anything hanging in art galleries, but this particular form goes that one step further into actual restoration, which I find very intriguing.

In more baffling news, Dr. Pepper thought it would be a great idea for people to invent their own catchphrase T-shirts--the end assumption is that consumers will create branded shirts they want to wear, and will be overjoyed to pay $15 per shirt to buy them.

This...didn't work out exactly as planned:
Some enterprising young idiot discovered symbols could be used on the shirts--you can imagine how well that went. And more than one person discovered "curse words" weren't allowed--but apparently (or at least, according to Dr. Pepper), that also includes Coca Cola (but mysteriously, not any other soft drink brand names).

Someone else discovered that while "corporate whore" hits their profanity filters, "lemon stealing whore" does not, so Dr. Pepper's standards are bizarre, to say the least.

And two shirts already bought and delivered--one says "I'm a Mr. Pibb drinker", and the other one says "I'm a Holocaust denier!". Wau. Just wau.

Someone else had the same text problem on CoolVL that I had! They even tossed up a picture so Henri Beauchamp can see exactly what's going on. After (likely minimal) evaluation of the problem, Beauchamp's answer was to blame the graphics card, with the suggestion to revert to an earlier driver--or to buy a new NVidia card, instead.

Here's my problem with that: if the only viewer I have this issue with is CoolVL, and no other viewer (including SL's official Viewer 3) has this invisible text issue...why would I revert to an earlier driver set? I can just choose not to use Beauchamp's buggy viewer.

I was given an entirely new reason not to go back when I first logged in on Catznip, also: because inexplicably, I was suddenly wearing three complete outfits--three wigs, three skirts, three pairs of shoes, three pairs of prim eyes--et cetera. It look me fifteen minutes of hitting "Detach all" and "Take off all clothing" before finally, everything (from six DIFFERENT outfit folders, even!) was off, and I could start with new hair, new outfit and new eyes.

I think this was CoolVL's death knell for me. Between the utter lack of end user support and the bugs in the code inherent to Beauchamp's code build, plus the fact that getting him to implement new features he didn't personally use himself--whether or not they were in the official SL viewer code--was nigh impossible, even if the requests came from a male...I don't see any reason to continue to use the Cool VL Viewer.

Other news. I don't, as a rule, give much thought to Prokovy Neva, but last week I was trying to track down more on Oskar Linden's departure from LL, and ran across this. What I find most compelling is this passage, near the end of the entry:
[23:20] Axxxxx Wxxxxxxx: I went ahead and picked up my belongings... and got my 329L back. Thank you for that. Also, just so you are aware... I do plan to write up an entire blog posting on a very popular SL blog about your exceptional customer service, urging all of my friends and blog followers (there is a lot...) to rent from you and to spread the word. In addition I will make sure all of my friends post on their SL Facebooks and Plurks about how everyone should rent from your land. You're welcome. :)

BTW, if you can't tell what sarcasm is... that was my way of letting you know, I'm going to be sure the word gets out about how fucking unprofessional and rude you are.... among a few other things I'll add. Good luck with all your nookie tenants. LOL
So, I punched in her name on a general blog search and found this. It's fairly self-explanatory, but I'd like to point out two distinct--but I think, personally, related--things:
  1. The woman relating this tale of woe in quotes goes by "αℓℓι вяєєη cυℓℓєη".
  2. The woman posting this tale of woe on behalf of Miss "cυℓℓєη" is going by (at least on the blog) "Fαšhï♡ηʍαdεƐαšψ".
I'm thinking I have a developing prejudice that is slowly settling into hard and obdurate place: that of substantially revising the intelligence level downward of anyone who uses Unicode characters in place of an actual name, who doesn't actually need those characters to spell OUT the name in question.

Well, that and continuing the prejudicial conception of idiots who want to be part of the Cullen family. Because those were abysmal, poorly written books, that were then turned into abysmal, poorly-scripted, poorly-filmed, poorly-plotted movies.

But also, this seems like prime self-delusion on steroids, on the part of Miss "cυℓℓєη". Like or loathe Neva, I'm not seeing anything particularly wrong in what was said in the first place. While it was blunt, it was not disrespectful, and had the codicil that if nothing truly was going wrong, then the cautions didn't apply.

And, as leery as I am about naming what is and isn't a child avatar, even I look at this and see a damaged--and possibly sexualized--child-height figure, if nothing else.

Running down her profile, there's a comment that terms Miss Ordinary an "aunt" of some sort, and she also has a shop offering what seems like quality fantasy (and seaside) prefabs, so...a case could be made that she's not normally the size of an adolescent. I will firmly and without hesitation raise my hand to support short people in SL; we are frequently accosted if we're under six feet as being pedophiles, perverts, or outright evil; and gods help those of us who go out actually in child forms--even if we ourselves keep ourselves restricted solely to PG zones.

But that having been said, if we take the image solely as the image--that is, if we discount what we may know about her business, her friends, and her personal RL age (let alone her SL age, which puts her clearly in the 2009 decantees)--then we have an avatar who looks very much like a child with artificially puffy lips, clawed feet, spattered in blood, wearing a severed hand. With more blood streaking her hair and clothing.

I'm all for keeping the spirit of the season--in this case, Samhain--alive all year; I have on frequent occasion set out onto the grid in some terrifying form or other, simply because I feel like creeping people out that day. How'ver, while I might be short when doing so, there is never a chance where I am presenting myself as a psychotic schoolgirl murderer, or...whatever the blood layers were supposed to indicate in Miss Ordinary's case.

Given the same information as Mm. Neva had, and valuing people who can obey my estate's covenant over just anyone who can pay the rent, I might have done exactly the same thing, and came to the same conclusion regarding both Miss Ordinary's outfit, and what may have been going on to cause the neighbor's complaint in the first place.

The one thing I find morbidly ironic in all of this? The fact that Miss "cυℓℓєη" told Neva, outright, that she was going to publish an account of these terrible misdeeds on a "very popular SL blog". Yet not only have I never heard of that blog, there are only four comments to that entry--and one of them is from the group owner.

Sure, Miss "cυℓℓєη", winning the popularity contest may well have induced two turtles and a piece of dryer lint to never rent from Neva again, but...I doubt you influenced anyone else.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I look over out of the window, I see your face, and I'm frightened, 'cause I live on the eighth floor

"Please, get the name right when citing it elsewhere: the name is "Cool VL Viewer", and not "Cool VL", "Cool Viewer", etc..."

Bite me, Henri. Especially since I had to abandon the use of CoolVL--again--when I lost the ability to perceive scattered text (so far observed: landmark descriptions, sim descriptions, the 'Buy/Pay' button on menus, my last name on login, and names of avatars I'm searching for, among other things) whenever I logged in. After spending two days tracking down the exact version of my graphics driver and reading something like eight different sites dealing with graphical concerns, I can say with some authority that it wasn't my drivers.

Mr. Allen talked me into downloading Catznip, and while on the catputer, it failed to work at all, on this one, it does. I have the usual days-to-weeks of figuring out where everything is, but seriously, I'm so tired to having to change viewers because they get buggy and stop working.

Which, in this case, I lay entirely at CoolVL's door.

(from the Canada album)

Remember Power Girl? Rather infamously known for her "boob window" (though her backstory was originally something like, she didn't feel she could wear Superman's token 'S', so she removed it from her costume, leaving the oval where it would have been bare), she's been largely given the Emma Frost treatment by fans and artists on her comic line both.

(from the Canada album)

Granted, she's always been slightly tilted towards pinup art, even briefly dipping into nigh-porn territory on occasion (at the very least, heavy on the cheesecake poses), but...I really have to protest, because this goes WAY too far in the other direction. Plus, keep in mind that's art published in one of the newly-revised lines; somewhere, somehow, that art passed the test for publication.

Power Girl as a giraffe with malformed hips (her legs quite clearly split in twain just below the curve of her right hip, and the hell?), linebacker shoulders, at least one broken arm, holding an invisible handbag...That was the best they could come up with?!?

Apparently, the "look" they were trying to go for is seen more proportionately here, but seriously, that's not an epic costume redesign in the first place. (And there's more than one artist doing weirdly mutated version of Power Girl in the New 52 as well--witness this appalling example, with her snarling knees and that staggeringly reconfigured package.)

The best image I could find of the new costume doesn't even seem to feature the new costume--it ditches the wonky 'arm capes' entirely, removes the tightly boned and lengthened giraffe neck, and trades in her expected white/gold/red color scheme for a navy/red/gold scheme, but barring all that, it's not that bad. But everything to get to that point, so far, is tacky at best, and revolting at worst. Poor Kara.

Finally, for Memorial day, a poppy to wear. While it is a US holiday, it's one with historical standing: the roots go back at least to the Civil War, if not farther. I also know there are at least a few international groups in Second Life who broaden the day to include honorable dead from all conflicts, not just the US ones.

Remember, honor, acknowledge; really, that's what Memorial Day is. And that goes farther than any one nation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

sometimes when I'm sad, I wander the streets, covered with mice

The first poster for Disney's remake of The Wizard of Oz has been released. I have to admit, I like the direction I'm seeing so far.

For Bond fans, some odd, but not entirely unpleasant news: Idris Elba is in talks with the property owners to potentially become the next James Bond.

Now then, in the midst of blog-based reconstruction efforts (and those are still ongoing, I keep wandering the wide, cold world beyond the screen), drama struck with great force.

To wit, the Blogging Elf's coverage of the new and improved copybotters on the grid.

Maybe I should say the "even more underhanded and sleazy" instead of improved, there. Why? Several things. Let's talk about how a search for "Marie2 Cisse" turns up her profile, which then says she's MissFederova Resident, and also Keeley Wintour (with Wintour being, I believe, her chosen display name). But wait, she's also partnered with MissFederova Resident. Huh?

No picks, no classified, a join date of 2009, and her first life bio is a study in arcane minimalism:
Be lovelie, feel like a sexie.
Ooookay then.

Marie2 had this to say:
[2012/10/15 14:09] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): you think those skins will be on sale
[2012/10/15 14:09] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): for 1k or more
[2012/10/15 14:09] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): I can do it for 300L
[2012/10/15 14:09] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): Full fat pack
[2012/10/15 14:09] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): :)
[2012/10/15 14:09] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): Maliah skin will sell more with me than you
[14:10] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): 20k i am offering
[14:10] Gerusa Bastos (marie2.cisse): for don't distruing this skin
Yeah, that really does strike me as straight-up extortion. Pay her twenty thousand Lindens or she'll release the hacked copy of your skin; which, seriously, she can do at any point anyway, because if she's showing it off, you KNOW it's going to hit the Marketplace sooner or later. And did I mention the total lack of any and all ethics for this entire thing? How can we deal honestly with people who don't care in the least who they hurt, as long as they get their money? The concept of not infringing because it hurts people won't wash; the idea that it's a crime with punishment means nothing, either, because week after week, month after month, this happens, and keeps on happening, and nothing's heard from the Lindens.

What about Alemanha (or, as her profile more properly calls her, sallyGirlpaty Aho? She's got a decant date of 2010, once changed her display name to "prostituta de beverlly hills", and all her first life bio says is "High quality static poses." But no store link. The hell. Is she Marie2 Cisse's alt? If not, who is she?

And issela2 Resident has the same picture as Alexandriala Resident and Marie2 Cisse, though she was cracked whole onto the grid in 2012; so I'd say at least provisionally, Marie2 is likely issela2 is likely Alexandriala...but who else?

Issela, according to Sanya Bilavio, had this to say:
[17:26] issela2: HAHAHA
[17:26] issela2: Take care
[17:34] issela2: I've all your mesh stuff
[17:34] issela2: And I'm going to giving away this
Have we really become this jaded as an online world? Not only that copyright infringement has become so openly blatant, but that the only thing we feel we can do is protest on blogs, because complaining to the Lindens does absolutely nothing? When did the last line of defense for copyright protection include the statement "For gods' sake don't expect the Lindens to do anything"?

Plus, being openly mocked when our products, our skins, our shapes, our mesh designs are lifted--in Sanya's case, directly in front of her eyes--that's emotionally crushing at the worst, depressing and enervating at best.

Getting back to Alexandriala Resident, whose SL bio is a feast of confusion:
No fear no doubt.
I'll provide the answers.

Mide tus palabras.

Online Catastrophe is
The answer.
There's no other. That does it like i do it.
Read RL. Kty bai
Um. Had to look that bit up; I can't find a solid English version, but several Spanish pages attribute the phrase to Pythagoras. One variant:
"Measure your words, weigh your opinions, count your deeds."
The problem is I can't track down anything directly attributed to Pythagoras with that translation. (Though "mide tus palabras" does mean "measure your words".)

So I went to look at the RL bio:
I do not care.........

kty bai
Right, just...right, you stand over there, I'm just going to back away slowly and then run for the door.

"MissFederova Resident", btw, seems to have been slain by the Lindens, as was plain "federova Resident"--at least, as far as both in-world and out-of-world search will tell me.

Guess the alt's out of the closet, or something?

The whole cavalcade of defiant alted thieves are noted individually on Sanya Bilavio's Flickr. But here's what kills me about this whole thing. Going back to the original blog, we find Alexandriana saying this:
[2012/11/02 12:23] Second Life: Alexandriala has given you this body part: Inna Bilavio shape
[2012/11/02 12:23] Alexandriala: Your shape has been copybotted.
[2012/11/02 12:23] Alexandriala: And will be sold.
That's...awfully close to blackmail, innit?

We already know she (in any of her nefarious guises) has no shame; she's openly posting hacked skins on both her Flickr and in her Marketplace store. Though apparently, there's an odd bit of sock puppetry attached to this teapot storm, as well--here, MissFederova attacks
  • Annie Jolifaunt (ITGirls owner, decanted 2010)
  • Avida Resident (nothing found)
  • Brigida Oliphaunt (nothing found, though I did find a "brigida Resident", decanted in 2010; no idea if it's any relation to the mysterious Ms. Oliphaunt. "Oliphant" was a last name, so "Oliphaunt" might have been; beyond that, no information found)
  • Capucine Bartavelle (nothing found, in or out of world)
  • CasaAmerica Resident (seems to have no connection; decanted 2011)
  • Christine Coignet (decanted 2010)
  • Dumani Resident (decanted 2012)
  • Götzsche Resident (She has a blog, though it's so new it's still squealing, and she arrived in 2012 on the grid)
  • Julia Stegner (no results)
  • Ladytrava Resident (born in 2011 is all I've got)
  • Louise Menizah (listed in world with a decant date of 2009; but she's not listed out of world at all. There is a Luiza Menizah, but I don't know if there's any connection. Intriguingly, she also arrived in 2009.)
  • Munique Benusconi (no results in or out of world; but Benusconi is confirmed as a last name)
  • SallyGirlPaty Aho (already covered elsewhere)
  • Sorrisocolgate Resident (none found in or out of world; there's a sorrisocarente Resident, decanted in 2012, but I don't know if they're related)
Wau. Lotsa names there. What connects them all? No clue. Why are they all being named as alts? No clue. But it deeply worries me. Someone--or a group of someones--who have no desire to do anything but graft a source of easy cash, fear no enforcement practices (and really, why should they, after everything else that's happened regarding copyrighted goods), and don't care how much chaos they leave in their wake...this makes them at least technologically capable, morally bankrupt, and contemptuous of any pressure we might bring to bear.

How do we stop a mobile, amoral conglomerate dedicated to taking what they can and spending it as fast as possible? When at least the original three names on this lengthening list seem to have zero compunction not only in lifting designs that aren't theirs, but in telling those they've infringed, directly, that they've not only lifted those designs, but they have every intention of selling them--and there's not a thing they can do to stop this?

I don't have the answers. I wish I did.

cameraman, swing the focus, in case I lost my train of thought

This is both a lovely gesture for Hurricane Sandy victims, and a marvelously easy make-ahead holiday gift (since we are steadily closing in on Winter Solstice activities). The only thing I'll add--behind mentioning that the entire blog is a joy to read--is that this recipe can easily be made vegan-friendly.

How? By substituting flax seed for the egg. Bob's Red Mill, as well as many other health food stores, carries both whole flax seeds, and flax seed meal. If you're not sure you'll use that much flax seed meal before it goes rancid (ground meal lasts about a month, whole seeds keep around a year), then just get a package of whole flax seeds and a coffee or spice grinder. Grinders retail for anywhere between five and fifty dollars, overall, and trust me--a five-buck grinder will do just as good a job as a fifty-buck grinder.

Then just add one Tablespoon of ground flax to 3 Tablespoons of lukewarm water, stir, let sit for a minute or two, and you have a vegan egg. This will work for both recipes requiring whole eggs, and recipes requiring egg whites.

(Also, according to another blog, you can use ground flax to replace flour in baked goods, to lower the carb content. I did not know that.)

Another easy holiday craft--and this one's a favorite of my cousin, as it happens--is the tied, no-sewing-required, fleece blanket. What you'll need besides two large enough/long enough pieces of fleece? A ruler and sharp scissors.

No, really, that's it. Between 1 1/3 and 2 yards will make a baby-size quilt, or a lap quilt; go larger if you need to, the process is the same. I can assure you they're very warm (Miss Neome got given one two years ago; she still uses it, and occasionally I steal it from her and use it, so yes, warm and snuggly indeed!) and generally colorful, home-brightening gifts.

What else has crossed the dash this morning...Oh! Kickstarter things!

The Morbid Anatomy Anthology is now fully funded! Also, Lindsay Porter's felted 80's kitsch projects are now half-funded, with over a month to go. And--my personal favorite--the "tweedpunk" game, Sir, You Are Being Hunted is fully funded and will become a reality!

And Qarl Linden's mesh deformer project still needs makers of mesh objects to send him products for testing. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help him do this!

Also, found by random happenstance today, there's a certain web address that used to lead to a protest/petition site that sent signed petitions directly to the Lindens. Now, five years later, it's a Japanese site that seems to be selling crab online:
If such people send him the finest crab, etc. according to the special day, you will be more special day that day.
If you use the mail order of crab, the Internet You are a good idea.
By using the Internet, it is possible to examine a lot of delicious crab can be.
But, being as it's badly translated from Japanese, it's hard to tell.

Reuters today noted an intense drop in stock prices for NCSoft. They went from ₩213,000.00 to ₩174,000.00, a loss of ₩7,500.00, or 4% of their total profits. Gosh, maybe they shouldn't have cut down City of Heroes where it stood. They might have been better off.