Thursday, May 30, 2013

where under the smiles fair and pretty are teeth so very white


[22:43] PrincessLazyAss left the region.
I have no words.

For another gobsmacked-into-wordlessness concept, try this. Actually, no, I do have one word. And that word is whyyyyyyy.

The Brainpickings blog has tracked down Joss Whedon speaking the commencement address this year for Wesleyan College:
"What I'd like to say to all of you is that you are all going to die...You have, in fact, already begun to die. You look great. Don't get me wrong. And you are youth and beauty. You are at the physical peak. Your bodies have just gotten off the ski slope on the peak of growth, potential, and now comes the black diamond mogul run to the grave. And the weird thing is your body wants to die. On a cellular level, that's what it wants. And that's probably not what you want.

"I'm confronted by a great deal of grand and worthy ambition from this student body. You want to be a politician, a social worker. You want to be an artist. Your body's ambition: Mulch. Your body wants to make some babies and then go in the ground and fertilize things. That's it. And that seems like a bit of a contradiction. It doesn't seem fair. For one thing, we're telling you, 'Go out into the world!' exactly when your body is saying, 'Hey, let's bring it down a notch. Let's take it down.'

"And that's actually what I'd like to talk to you about. The contradiction between your body and your mind, between your mind and itself. I believe these contradictions and these tensions are the greatest gift that we have."
The entire speech is brilliant, but I, like Maria Popova, wanted to preserve this bit. Our aspirations are not ourselves. And that's okay. That makes it challenging. And challenges, as any creative type knows, make us think around our problems, adapt in new ways, and innovate. It's good to remember.

What else was I going to link today....Oh! That thing! That I missed. It was back in Aprille, but thankfully, there's a Tumblr devoted to reminding all of us that there is a Slow Art Day. But also, the first article on that site is of relevance, too--on the difficulty in museum curation now, as opposed to the past.

The reason this is becoming a difficulty is partly generational. Those before the age of massive advertising inculcation and iDevices ruling our lives think in different ways. The Slow Art Day site calls this the vertical/horizontal thinking split, but I don't think they're entirely accurate in that. Vertical thinking, as a term, simply means categorized thinking--logic over intuition, say, or analytical over creative. What they're trying to get across, I think, has less to do with analytical thinking versus imaginative thinking, and more to to with attention span in general.

The (several, now!) generations that were dosed with advertising growing up, that were given access to technology earlier and with greater ease than previous generations, we seem to be--at least, as a loosely defined set of groups--on average more cynical about motivations, more easily bored, and more likely to search for the next thing that goes bang than previous generations. We tend, as a loose class, to be more impatient with the world around us. And while these are not necessarily bad character traits to have, in art appreciation these can become a battleground all too easily. Between the curator and the viewer, that article states, there is now a wider gap than some curators are comfortable perceiving.
"If you go through the galleries in a museum now, more people are taking pictures than are actually looking."
--Sarah Suzuki
I really think that's part of the problem too--it's not just the shift in attention span, it also includes the adaptation to new technology. We see something we like, and most of us don't immediately think, "I'm going to look at this for a long time, and really ponder what it means to me". Instead, we point our iDevice's camera at whatever it is, tap a key and move on. We have, essentially, "saved" the experience, to be experienced later, when we have time.

Only for most of us, that time never comes, simply because there's so many experiences out there we're trying to condense. Add in the stress of employment itself and the struggle to maintain a social life, and we're now easily overwhelmed on top of everything.

I wonder if curation in Second Life suffers this same dilemma. Essentially, looking at art in Second Life means that we are no longer the ones taking the picture; we have, in a sense, become the picture. We are the image. And while many of us likely still do snap a pic and move on, I think some of us take that secondary space to reflect--at least a little--on what we're seeing. Because we exist in the same space as what we're seeing, essentially, in a way that even being in a museum may no longer give us (at least, in that sense of preservational experience).

There's an interesting article on Canada's Globe & Mail site that mentions the vibrative voice technique. The vibrator they're referring to, specifically, is the Siri, which is a pricy bit of sensual tech; how'ver, the reason why it's that one, specifically, is interesting. According to David Ley, the developer of the technique, not only does it relax the vocal cords better than vocal warm-up exercises, but, because that particular toy vibrates between 100 and 120 hertz (which is closely aligned to the vibration in human vocal cords), it enhances and strengthens that singer's vocal power overall.

He's also working on expanding his class series to include training physical therapists, who can then employ the technique on patients recovering from vocal cord damage, or surgery. I'm fascinated by where this concept is going to go from here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

back into the boneyard badlands we run



This is, quite possibly, the best Borderlands cosplay video in existence. With the kind permission of Gavin Dunne from Miracle of Sound for the song, and the full cooperation of the Jazzhands Cosplay Group of London, it was an impressive endeavor. Humble kudos to all involved.

(Oh, and the song used in that video? It's called "Breaking Down the Borders", and it's from the Level III album, available on Bandcamp or iTunes. The entire album comes highly recommended, but that song in particular, since it was written about and for Borderlands 2 as a game.)

The best preserved mammoth in paleontology? Maybe. The question is, what are they going to do with it now?

Oh, and before I forget:

(from the media album, and the Girl Genius Kickstarter)

The Wulfenbach patch unlocked as an add-on for the Girl Genius Kickstarter. We don't have art yet, but I did have to grab this banner and link it, because with four days to go, suddenly $300,000 seems potentially doable!

Do you have old game consoles and peripherals that you no longer use, that are taking up space? Do you want more game peripherals that are actually useful for more than just taking up space? I have one potential answer for those questions. Turns out an Etsy firm called Greencüb out of Ogden, Utah, is slowly repurposing old controllers, buttons, and power switches for resale to the public. Kind of a nifty concept.

It's not enough just to have dare foods anymore, we apparently have to dare during the dare foods. As Chuck from the Bronx displays, by eating a ghost pepper whilst skydiving. Yes, seriously.

It gets better--there are occasional text pop-ups on the vid that tell us what's going on, and one of them says that he had trouble swallowing the pepper that he popped in his mouth at the beginning of the jump. So it wasn't just eating the ghost pepper (which, for the uninitiated, averages about a million Scoville heat units, per pepper, and remains the single hottest naturally-grown pepper to date), but, it was lightly macerating a ghost pepper against the sensitive mucus membranes of his mouth, then HOLDING IT THERE during most of freefall, enhancing and substantially increasing the burn. Dear gods. No wonder he does not so much land at the end of the video, but slide to an ungainly stop. Dear gods.

If you really like trees--or, more importantly, are a big fan of wood--you may need to buy this book. Published by Taschen, it's actually a reprint of a rare, fourteen-volume set that was researched and compiled in-depth of species at the turn of the last century--many of which have disappeared today. Taschen went to the heart of Romeyn Beck Hough's masterwork, reprinting only the actual photographic plates with their usual exacting faithfulness for color and detail preservation. Since a set of the original works goes upwards of $30,000--assuming a fond reader can find them at all--this is a lovely way to acquire the visual sections for later perusal, without the price tag and expense of tracking Hough's set down.

YouTube now offers a slow-motion post-processing effect for uploaded videos. I still don't know why, but it's now there. Make of that what you will.

And, also from the Laughing Squid blog, Inception meets recursion. You're...welcome?

Friday, May 24, 2013

you built up your heaven on the back of hell

Studio Foglio will now have all twelve of their Girl Genius volumes reprinted! On June 2nd, their Kickstarter will be fully funded, which means for the next eight days, it's just play time and stretch goals. Considering some of their stretch goals involved pancakes on various Foglio family members, I'm dying to know what they're going to do next.

Couple weeks back, Disney announced the "official" arrival of Merida as the next Disney princess. Which is all well and good--the coronation announcement was both splendid and a great deal of fun, on May 11th--but it's not the announcement itself that seems to be irritating people. It's the sparkly, slimmer redesign for the two-dimensional version that seems to be getting under peoples' skin.

Merida's creator criticized Disney for this move, there was a petition that garnered a great deal of signatures, and Disney quietly caved--for once--and put the original Merida up on the princess page.

But I think my favorite fan reaction, all things considered, was John Kovalic's. That's very nearly perfect.

Sent from a friend, from a profile she wandered across:
"Breaking News: The Pity Train has just derailed at the intersection of Suck it Up & Move On, and crashed into We All Got Problems, before coming to a complete stop at Get the Hell Over It. Any complaints about how we operate can be forwarded to 1-800-WAA-WAAA. This is Dr. Sniffle reporting LIVE from Quitchur Bitchin'. If you like this great, if you don't, suck it up cupcake! Life doesn't revolve around you."
I like that.

The White House has awarded Sally Ride a posthumous Medal of Freedom for her efforts in both scientific endeavors and in expanding the reach of the space program. Her partner, Tam O'Shaughnessy, accepted the award on her behalf, and NASA has announced a new internment program to allow up to ten deserving students each semester to study alongside NASA research scientists and engineers, in partnership with Sally Ride Science, the grant set up in Ride's name. While she was the third woman in space, her achievements--especially in the field of educational inspiration, long after her death--have been significant, so this is wonderful news.

This, also, may be the single most beautiful ad for a funeral home ever. Not only that, but we need more ads involving mortality leading to new life. Most of the funeral home advertising--in the US, at least--tends towards far skyborne vistas, stately aged trees, sunlight on water...that whole 'eternity' vibe, when what they should be reinforcing is that we all die, and that's okay, because the flowers still grow and the children still play.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

dimensions twist and turn amidst the whims of one foreseen

The Girl Genius Kickstarter grinds on, trilobite by trilobite--they haven't locked in $200,000 yet, but I'm still assured they will. I'll be watching, along with many readers, I'm sure, and I'm both astounded and ecstatic that of the twelve books that desperately needed reprinting, only two remain. Yay for fans.

Also, this is a fascinating idea--harvesting paper from many different printing companies, as well as artists and writers, and rebinding it into "resketch" pads--notebooks that can easily be used for more drawings, more sketches, but that can also be used by artists of any stripe as inspiration pages. With anything from cardstock to brilliants to old map sections in any given book, that--along with the repurposed existing art in each book, and inspirational pushes from the creator of Shawnimals--makes this a very intriguing concept indeed. Even better? Today was the first I'd heard of it, it has twenty-seven days to go--and it's already fully funded!

That Girl Scouts are better than Boy Scouts--or, at least, more accepting, both historically and currently--is pretty much obvious; but the reason this is news is that the Boy Scouts National Council is voting today to allow openly gay Scouts to serve in the Boy Scouts. Annoyingly enough, whether or not they vote to allow gay Scouts to continue to be Scouts, they won't budge on allowing openly gay Scout Leaders to be Scout Leaders.

Which is still tragic, because the gay and bisexual Scouts I've known have, to a man, been honest, forthright, true, and would rather cut their own throats than harm a child in any way. They are devoted to the Scout ideals, and the BSA has done them a disservice for decades.

Boing Boing, in support of this issue, had an article last year on the (then small, but growing) push for recognized Eagle Scouts to send back their awards to the BSA in protest. They've now updated that article, with more letters.

Just remember, it's easier to help, than it is to obstruct. And you get less grief for it in the long run.

Minecraft LPers were the first to notice that the new change to YouTube's ID system has resulted in some aberrant behavior. Baj isn't the only one to notice, either. This was released back in February, but--apart from sounding eerily like one of Torley Linden's cheerier missives--didn't contain much, if any, real information.

Basically, though, it's the same problem as when Second Life adopted display names, with a difference--viewers no longer get the account name, just the channel title. Now, for me--because I'm lazy--my channel title IS my account name, so it's the same either way. But Baj, for instance? His channel's called Minecraft made easy. Now, that's the name shown to any prospective viewer!

How is this supposed to help anyone find people? Answer: it's not. And a lot of folks are getting very upset by this change.

Oh, and there's a petition, if you want to sign. Not sure it'll actually do anything, but there is one.

Meanwhile, Scott Bradlee has put out a video using "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to show the progression of popular music. It's a lot of fun.

And I have no words for this one save it's a great tribute for YouTube's Comedy Week.

Friday, May 17, 2013

the hybrid face of time and space, and all that's in between

Want to know more about Amanda Palmer's music? She's opened up a ton of past recordings--some to download, some to buy, but all available for listening. Fun idea, and something more artists should do; because the concept of record stores with listening stations is now something firmly camped in vintage reality for most of us.

Artist Nina Katchadourian has, for several years, been rearranging book spines to make snippets of prose ranging from the whimsical to the profound. Now, her project has been released as a book itself, which is, frankly, all kinds of awesome.

Interested in quilting? Interested in constellations? Combine the two! There are seventeen days remaining to the project, which is now fully funded, so you can still contribute if you want your own special thing; or just toss in funds to support quilt artistry in general. Either way, it's a fun idea, be that wall hanging or bed covering--a section of the sky, with stars strewn in stitches to adore at leisure.

More intriguingly, though, this is not the first Haptic Lab project to use Kickstarter, and it's far from the first that's funded--this tends to be what they do as a collective. Most of their projects are sold in kit form, but when they have a design idea that needs more funding than simply selling kits and finished quilts will get them, they toss up a "mini-Kickstarter" to help them. In exchange, they put out limited editions that will never be made again. So it's a win for everyone involved--Haptic Lab gets to make bigger projects, and sell the non-limited versions to the public; the contributors get a special, one-of-a-kind handcrafted creation with all of their trademark precision and tactile sensitivity.

Speaking of Kickstarter, have I mentioned the Girl Genius Kickstarter yet? Already fully funded, with sixteen days to go, the impressive thing on this one is the steadily achieving set of stretch goals, because the more Studio Foglio raise, the greater this thing's going to be when it closes.

First, a touch of explanation for anyone who doesn't know: books are expensive to keep in print. No one knows this better than independent publishers, but as the Foglios are highly talented, slightly scattershot, vaguely disorganized artist-types, they suddenly realized they had several volumes that had slipped out of availability all at once.

This is bad. Thus, the Kickstarter, and the stretch goal process:
  • $70,000: Reprinting Volume One of Girl Genius (achieved!)
  • $85,000: Reprinting Volume Eleven of Girl Genius (achieved!)
  • $100,000: Reprinting Volume Five of Girl Genius (achieved!)
  • $115,000: Reprinting Volume Two of Girl Genius (will likely also be easily achieved as they're close)
  • $130,000: Reprinting Volume Three of Girl Genius (also highly possible, as they have sixteen days and a LOT of fans)
And it goes up from there. Even better, if for reasons of ecological preservation, discouraging clutter, or purely financial, the $20 level gets you both a shiny metal pin (in antique silver or brass) PLUS PDF copies of all the books they manage to save with this effort.

Also, some of the upper level offers are just amusing beyond all reason, up to and including, for the startling fee of $10,000, Professor Phil coming to your house (or, the concurrent offer, $10,000 to keep Phil from ever coming to your house).

If you're a fan, you just might need to help them out. Good news for us--they're going to get the help, so anything past now is gravy. Tasty, tasty steampunk gravy.

Are you a wee bit OCD? Do you cook? Consider the Obsessive Chef cutting board set, with precise organizational measurements printed right on the cutting surface. Personally, I love this concept; it would be a boon to both beginning and experienced cooks alike.

Know someone who's interested in calligraphy or illumination, but who prefers naked girls to dusty books? Offer them a compromise. (That link is elegantly NSFW, but very very pretty, just so you know.)

I actually think that's a fascinating concept in general--it hearkens back both to the old horror tales of living books, as well as tattooing in general, and the preservation of knowledge. After all--you can't suppress knowledge that people already know. And folks are already getting quotes tattooed on themselves, why not entire book pages? Think about a banned book fair that's entirely comprised of passages no one can take away without removing the skin of the participants.

(I might be taking this a bit far, but still. Fascinating.)

Normally, BuzzFeed is where you go to get a quick fix of internet oddity or quirky reaction gifs to save for later, but on occasion, they make serious points. Here, why Varys is the real star of Game of Thrones. They may not be wrong.

And--last but defiantly not least--prepare yourselves. He is coming. And he looks amazingly bad-ass. RiddickRiddickRiddickyay! (Yes I am a fan.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

having that feeling when there's no one awake

Ladies, do you know where your towel is? Let [pop shop] help with that.

If you're not interested in wearing your towel, or aren't female, there's also a unisex, carryable variant with "DON'T PANIC" written on it in large, friendly letters.

Interestingly enough, beyond May 25th being the annual Towel Day to celebrate the life and works of Douglas Adams, it's also African Liberation Day, Lucky Penny Day, the second lunar eclipse for 2013, the next upcoming zombie race in Ohio, the largest planned march on Washington by gun owners this year...Actually, that would go really well with the zombie race. Oh, and it's also smack dab in the middle of May, which is itself named after the Greek goddess Maia (so it's also known as Flower Month), American Bike Month (as well as Alternate Transportation Month); National Strawberry Month; National Salad Month; Creative Beginnings Month, Get Caught Reading Month, International Victorious Woman Month, National Hamburger Month, Moving Month, React Month; Asian-Pacific Heritage Month; Asparagus Month; National Egg Month, National Mental Health Month (at least in the US); National Salsa Month, National Gazpacho Afficionado Month, National Chocolate Custard Month, National Barbecue Month, National Hamburger Month (White Castle started this one), International Mediterranean Diet Month...It's also International Pickle Week, National Dog Bite Prevention Week, National Taffy Day, and World Turtle Day, among others.

In fact, it's also National Month Month. So go wild, or...whatever it is you do to celebrate the "monthiness" of any given month.

Hey! Are your carrots just not sharp enough? Design firm Karoto wants to help with that. Now, you'll never have to worry about dull, non-lethal carrots ever again. You're welcome.

Monday, May 13, 2013

you're drowning in the grief of Jupiter's water

Al Satterwhite's Cozumel Diary project will be fully funded! Congratulations to all contributors!

And Among the Sleep will be fully funded! This one's even more exciting for me, personally, because I think it's an astonishing step in survival horror games. There's been games where the protagonist is a child--there are survival horror games where the villain is a child--but a toddler? And having the entire game hinge on not knowing, from the first moment, whether or not this is that toddler's nightmare, or really something going on? Beautiful.

I seem to be the land of oddly specific links on occasion. But, if you ever wanted to look like a Drow Lolita who's just wandered in from the Battle of Normandy...I can help you with that.

Speaking of Marketplace things, I found this, and I couldn't figure out what they'd done to make the face look like that. So I ordered the demo version, and took a closer look.

(from the Comparisons album; not my standard side-by-side run, but a comparison nonethelss)

I've been logging in and mainly going through new (or new-ish) inventory, so in the above image, I'm wearing the LoveCats 'Spring Fae' skin in purple (bought on sale about a week ago), with an Angelwing outfit (the Naerose set in purple) purchased at their last sale, the Nautilus eyes in Violet from Saturnine Dreams (closing on May 20th, so go buy things NOW!), and Truth's "Adeline" hair with roots in the 'Elvira' tone (bought at Truth's last sale, which was so chaotically handled, that while I'm happy to have more mesh hair, I really don't care if I ever go back to the store).

(from the Comparisons album)

Um. Okay, this is terrifying. And I'm not talking about the huge hands--that's an easy change to make on a shape, so you can demo it for potential customers, and they can see how the rest of the shape looks.

(from the Comparisons album)

And then the skin rezzed in. Yeah. That...shape...That is just wrong, in every conceivable way. Not the least of which is, it's supposed to be a 'fresh teen shape', and...bwuh? Teens have no chins and anime eyes? Since when??

(from the Comparisons album)

I did try the skin demo with what (at least this month) I'm considering as my default shape, and--while I don't normally wear tanned skins--this isn't a bad skin. The shading's decent, and overall, having looked through her Marketplace store, her skin line isn't bad. Slightly derivative, but seriously, who isn't, these days? But they look good.

It's just her teen shape that's baffling.

Wil Wheaton made the Rachel Maddow blog the other day, or at least, something he said at a convention did--a heartfelt, sincere, amazing answer to the mother of a new child on why it was perfectly okay to be a nerd. Well worth watching.

And the LEGO company is releasing a Steampunk set soon! It looks very cool, and of course, I am thinking of combining the Steampunk master set with the Pirates set...and maybe the zombie set. Woo-hoo!

I linked XD Design's window device charger a while ago on the blog--a beautifully designed, utterly impractical, inefficient and overpriced solar panel that sticks to a window near your desk or in your home. Well, now they've released something else that's beautiful, stylish, as well as inefficient and overpriced--a sunflower-in-pot solar-panel charger. They're both cute; they're both very sleek. But it seems form means more to XD than function, and that's really not the point.

Like Minecraft? Like 3D printing? Like designing things? Try Printcraft, a scripted variant of Minecraft wherein folks can log in, make their builds, and convert their creations directly to .stl files for 3D printing, in addition to uploading them direct from the game to Thingiverse. I don't know whether it's a pay server or not, but it's yet another great innovation to the base game.

In more...disturbing news, or at least potentially...a Japanese company has invented virtual water.

As Gizmodo--and the company's promotional materials--hint at, this likely won't be used for...well...water. But virtual sex has always been big business, so it's hardly surprising.

"Go home, rainbow! You're drunk!"

Saturday, May 11, 2013

lord, lord, that greed, it'll kill you

[21:39] Exxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: I got spooked from falling asleep at my keyboard to be told the obvious -yawn-
[21:40] mxxxxxx Axxxxx: Eggplant
[21:43] kxxxxxxxxx Rxxxxxxx: cheese


For some reason, this is relevant today.

Curious about where Lovecraftian monsters fall within their pantheon of horror? This might help.

Have a small (aheh) collection of tiny adorable tattoos. You're welcome?

Oh, and sure, there are more wiring diagrams needed, and at least a limited materials-needed list would be helpful, but this gives you at least a general idea of what you'd need...to keep you up at night.

Also, did you know you can get a free month of Reddit Gold (sort of their equivalent of pro membership) just by sending them a postcard? That's interesting. (It might just be a free trial of the gold service; but it's still interesting.)

And just to mention this, for fellow horror fans, there are a few movie posters popping up that seem to be advertisements for films coming to theatres soon, but in fact are advertisements for You're Next, a horror film coming this August. It's a freakishly brilliant ad campaign. Kudos to Lionsgate.

Some more information on the Labrador pup mentioned yesterday from that friend:
Maggie is a 10 week old black lab puppy. She is part of my sister-in-law's family. She started acting lethargic and confused shortly after they all came to our area for a vacation/visit. They took Maggie to a local vet hospital for tests, and it turns out she has a liver shunt (http://www.dog-health-guide.org/caninelivershunt.html) It can be managed short term with diet and medicine, but for one as large and external like Maggie's, surgery is the only long term solution. My sis-in-law's family is already stretched beyond thin. The surgery itself costs upwards of $3,000 - and they already had over $1,000 in bills from the vet this week. I hope that helps a bit.
And, thanks to a ton of passionate, invested, creative folks, the NeoLucida device will receive full funding--and at some point, will be able to buy for the general public. Yay!

There's a new theory being tossed around as to why the Egyptians stopped building pyramids. It's fairly interesting, too, and consistent with the fact that Egypt as a whole, while more temperate earlier on, was always warmer than other locales.

That the perfection of construction was what caused the destruction of later pyramids, though...that's rather stunning as a concept. Apparently, you can be too good at something. Who knew?

Friday, May 10, 2013

songbird, take me home

So, in addition to IndieGoGo (independent/music projects), Kickstarter (music/technology/art projects), Rockethub (science and technical projects along with many international relief efforts), GoFundMe (personal donations of any kind), Razoo (nearly entirely charitable causes), and others, there's also Fundrazr, which I know scathingly little about. How'ver, a friend tipped me to this project, which is fairly simple--a family looking to save their dog.

Now, spending part of Second Life as a neko, I think it's fairly well established that I'm a cat person--sometimes literally--but I have owned dogs as pets (RL) in the past. And, beyond breed or species, I know that pets are very important to many of us, and can feel like--or simply be--part of our families, essential to our survival as living, breathing, emotional beings.

I have faced the staggering cost of medical surgery, and (in our case, because our RL finances are notably absent a large percentage of the time) had to make the excruciating decision to euthanize those animals, rather than make them struggle on in pain and illness. It has never been an easy decision. One of my family members owns ferrets, and--due to their much shorter life span--she's faced this decision nearly once every two years. It takes its toll, definitely.

But in this case, Maggie's not at the end of her life, she's at the beginning. She hasn't grown out of puppyhood yet, and if they fail to raise the funds, she won't reach adulthood at all. They have a very low target they're trying to reach, and forty-eight days remaining on the funding drive. Please help if you can.

In other news, sources are saying Picasa Web Albums are on the way out as a service, transiting soon to Google+ Photos. What does this mean to those of us who do not have, nay, cannot have a Google+ account? I don't know, but just in case, I'm keeping my eyes open for new image hosting services.

The main problem with that is it will end up breaking a TON of content, on a blog that goes back several, several years now. I'm not sure I'm up to the daunting task of recoding every image I've ever posted.

Moving to comics, over on Bleeding Cool, there's an interesting article by Natalie Reed on the (slightly) increasing presence of transsexual characters in comics. While I like her analysis of what it means to a traditionally homophobic (and transphobic) field, I do take exception to one of her examples.

(from the media album; Lord Fanny from Grant Morrison's "The Invisibles")

This is Lord Fanny, from the comic "The Invisibles". While Ms. Reed seems to think...how did she put it...that Fanny is "wildly inaccurate and generally exploitative", I strongly disagree. I've known trans women like Fanny. These are not quiet, demure, reserved, politically-active transsexual ladies of stature--women like Fanny had to fight for every step of gender correction along the way. Some I've known became prostitutes, or sold (or helped to distribute) drugs; some stole, some flung themselves into bad relationship after bad relationship, mostly for struggling issues of insecurity and self-esteem, but also, because if your only criteria is who can afford to pay for your hormones, when no insurance in town will touch you, you do what you have to.

(from the media album; Lord Fanny from Grant Morrison's "The Invisibles"; pencil sketch drawn by Phil Jimenez)

More than that, though, Lord Fanny's a guerrilla fighter on the edges of perception, and I mean that quite literally. The universe of the Invisibles is one in which reality can change, alter, distort at a moment's notice. There is no good and bad, specifically--there's only nature and destruction. The Invisibles fight on all fronts--gender, mind, spirit, flesh--and they fight at all times, and in all realities. Because most of the time, what they fight has no gender, little mind, and is nothing our minds can comprehend without serious pharmaceutical help.

Like it or hate it--and Morrison, like his comics, is similar to Warren Ellis in this regard: there are very few people lukewarm in their feelings for him--"The Invisibles" is a comic series that was absolutely different from anything seen before its arrival, and still holds up fairly well to this day. And I'll stack Lord Fanny side by side with Neil Gaiman's Wanda and David Hine and Doug Brathwaite’s "Doll", as a powerful, empowering depiction of transgender life.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

divine is the daughter, the dream that you sell



Rye Weston has a little shop for various oddities in Highlands Japanese mall, and...this was a freebie she offered about a week or so back. (It might still be available.) Other than being named "Geisha Dance", I had no clue what it actually did.

Now I know. It is a dance. Geisha do not dance like this, but...it's some kind of dance, and the song is somehow related to Dance Dance Revolution, originally written and performed by SMiLE.dk and Naoki Maeda. Beyond that, I have no idea what they're going for.

(This was recorded at Custard Developments, again.)

Also, proof of my under-a-rock status came a few days back in the form of this NWN entry on the Oculus Rift. I hadn't heard a thing about it, then a couple days later, Among the Sleep (which has seven days to go, people, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help fund this!!) announced they'd received a developers' kit for the Oculus Rift. As soon as this news leaked out, tons of people began asking for Oculus Rift support. So the team's now working on it.

I truly believe, one way or another, Krillbite Studio will find a way to fund this, and make this game, but even if they don't with this Kickstarter, they're already doing the ground work for Oculus Rift support. Which--if they remain as a game studio, and I think they will--might well serve them in future games.

So what is the Rift device? Well, it's yet another virtual-reality simulator, but in this case, it seems to be both far less bulky than previous helmet-based devices, and also, it splits the visual feed into two distinct angled displays, similar to how our eyes actually receive information naturally. There are some early reports that the device can cause sea-sickness (or at least, motion disorientation) in some users, but I think as the tech evolves and support grows, that will lessen. As it is, the Rift seems a very exciting development in virtual technology--and the Lindens also have a dev kit they're working with, to integrate Oculus Rift support into Second Life.

(from the shopping album; my bwuh of the day)

In other news...a friend mentioned this oddity, so I went to go look. It's copy only, 100% mesh, but for a freebie, the detail's incredible.

(from the shopping album; my bwuh of the day)

It's decently maneuverable (it is a flying machine, after all), and only slightly unwieldy on the turns, but overall, functions just fine.

(from the shopping album; my bwuh of the day)

The only problem? It's bigger than I am. (Note: I am NOT in a Petite form, it's just a biiiig barrel!)

The moose...barrel...helicopter...thing can be found at the United InshCon main store, as this week's group gift.

(from the media album; kind of had to be done)

And pondering on the mystery of screen names...a certain individual ([Sxxxxxx Txxxxx] by redacted name) currently has, as their screen name, "Shokneatomsendaplfkrjtfkplonpom".

Riiiight.

Okay, then. Cue backing away slowly until escape is achieved.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

and I dream of the sky, broken clouds drifting by

[16:25 PM] dxxxxx Axxxx: Our total has now reached L$ 8,993,190, which means that Fantasy Faire 2013 has just become the single largest fundraising event in the history of Second Life.

Just amazing.

In other news, crazy people are crazy. That's what makes them crazy. AKA, poor Casper.

Moving to technology--of a sort--have some steampunk case mods! And watch that space--the writer wants to update that with new ones when he finds them.

Moving to charity, have you heard of Blessings in a Backpack? I think this is such an amazing idea. They ask schools to consider if they can fundraise enough money to "purchase" one backpack per student in need--$80 is enough to feed one child with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare foods for one year--and then they're enrolled in the program. Each child then receives a backpack (new, or gently used) which can be used for school supplies afterwards, which is packed to bursting with peanut butter, tuna, crackers, meal bars, mini cereal boxes, juice boxes...whatever will keep and can be prepared safely without heat or refrigeration, just in case.

They definitely need more eyes on their cause.

The blogger list (no, I'm not on it, next year I promise I'll try sooner!) and the merchant list (two whole sims this year!) have been finalized for the upcoming World Goth Fair, which will be sometime near May 22nd (the official World Goth Day). There's a stellar line-up of vendors, and Axi Kurmin is working her virtual rear off getting everything organized. More when I have it, but in the meantime, wander the site--it's been updated with all the new names.

The exhibitors for this year's Home & Garden Expo have been announced, too. The Home & Garden Expo is generally a lower-key affair, but if you want to know the state of the current virtual art--at least where interior decoration and landscaping are concerned--that's where you want to be.

I'm still trying to figure this next one out. Matthew Inman bought Wardenclyffe. Yeah, that Matthew Inman. Yeah, that Wardenclyffe.

Well, at least we know he really likes Tesla, so...yay?

Full-color 3D printers, anyone? They're on their way.

As much as I am a staunch proponent of gaining a foothold on Mars, Robert Inventor makes some truly excellent points against it.

Why do we blush? AsapSCIENCE tries to break it down for us.

And Pteron the art sim is no more. So far, no one knows why. It's very sad.

And have some sushi cats. You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

and I dream of the sky, my utopian lie

A friend passed me something I figured might be good to toss to a wider audience:
Rules and Guidelines for the Inkstained Clanks

Welcome to the fan fiction writing group for the brilliant Girl Genius universe. We are a collection of like-minded individuals who enjoy writing and gathering together in order to write and share original fan fiction stories, sonnets, haikus, and prose. We are currently working on creating a website to post the masterpieces that our members create. Each person will have their own log in and their own page, and that way they will be able to maintain their own collection of their talent. For now, however, we will be meeting once a week in order to share our stories, read them out loud if the members wish it, as well as to help each other by giving constructive criticism, praise, and whatever other help our members may need. In order to keep order and to stay on the same page, we have put together a few rules for our members.

Every Sunday a theme will be issued. A theme is sent out in order to motivate and challenge our members to write using a certain theme, be it a situation, topic, type of monster, etc. Suggestions for themes will be accepted but the ultimate decision will rest with the owners of the group.

Every week we will have a meeting where we can help each other write, give praise, constructive criticism, etc. These stories will be G, PG, and R rated, although there will be no explicit sexual or violent scenes. There can be vague or general sorts of situations but nothing offensive or explicit. Which leads us to rule number 3.

Once a month there will be meeting for Adult fan fiction, where we will be reading, writing, giving constructive criticism, praise, and any other comments to fan fiction that can be rated anywhere from G to XXX. We will let everyone know well in advance when the adult meeting will be, so that those who do not care to attend can steer well clear of it. When we get the website online, the adult writings will have their own section so it will be kept away from the rest of the creations.

No Drama. We are adults and surely we can pretend to get along with everyone. We are writers, creators, surely we can act civilized. If you are having problems with someone and cannot reconcile it with them by yourself, please contact Kira Vedrina (Kiralette Kelley). She is the ultimate power of Clank or Crush in the group and will be happy to try to find a way to create peacefulness. Peace enables people to be more creative, and we all want to let those creative juices flowing, right?

No maligning Girl Genius, the creators of Girl Genius, or anyone who is involved in the creative process that goes into the existence of Girl Genius. If it weren't for them, we would not be here making our own creations using theirs as an inspiration.
While it's also nice to know that Miss Kiralette is still alive and kicking, what I would mention to people is that no writing group, no matter the goal, is ever a waste of time. Fan writing in particular--while it can, and usually does, exist in a legal hinterland that occasionally becomes dangerous terrain indeed, what people tend to forget is that it's still writing. Anything that gets us writing, consistently; thinking of characterization and plot; and developing writing routines is never wasted time.

Just search for "Inkstained Clanks" under Groups; they pop right up, and they're a free group to join.

[10:21 PM] Geoffrey Xenobuilder: by the way who ever's Refrigerator is running laps thru Central Caledon Can you collect it before it eats one of the pepole looking at parcels

Never a bad idea.

Unfortunately, this one was:

[00:18] Cxxxx Nxxxxxxx: Well, the fundraiser to help Aeva/Heartsick owner Amesha get a new computer started-only problem is that the sim owner went to bed without opening the sim to the public.

Nrrrrrng.

As I wasn't on the "official" bloggers' list for the Heartsick event (they didn't turn me down, I didn't apply because my scattered brain is having a hard enough time keeping up with blogging just for me), I don't know whether or not the bloggers that were got early access. I'd suggest just keep trying until the event opens--hopefully, when the sim owner wakes up in the morning.

[Update before publishing: it's been fixed! It's now open, so go and support your brains out. There's a lot of great things donated for the event from a lot of great designers, so yay for simple fixes.]

[[Postscript: having now--very briefly--wandered the sim, I'm also amused that the unofficial theme of the affair seems to be Twi'leks. Hee.]]