Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Becky's Futurecast

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

   With the elections and all the turkeys behind us, we begin looking forward to the holiday season and the end of another year. December is a time for recalling things from our past and making hopeful predictions of what the future will bring.
   This year had plenty of ups and downs, but we also had two rewarding, memorable experiences. For a half century, I have been an amateur esoteric scientist. I took delight in telling friends things that science didn't know, but would soon discover. My favorite stories were 1) that the true shape of the universe would be found to be a giant donut and 2) that scientists would soon begin to prove there is a god (or supreme designer). Admittedly, these are some fantastic topics, but in SL, with it's preponderance of sci-fi nerds, they are great "ice-breakers" and have generated many great chat sessions. This year, I found a number of videos, on line, that science was now beginning to echo my theories. One group of scientists had even shown where our galaxy, the Milky Way, was located on the donut. My joy was short lived, when I remembered that I had never written them down and so could not prove that I had predicted them in advance. Oh well, there's still a silver lining. Now that science was accepting my introductory logic, I can point out some of the logical extensions to the theories. Hopefully, by getting it on paper this time, I can enlighten the world or, at the very least, entertain the nerds among our readers.
   We aren't trying to write a book here, so we will just give some short thumbnails of the theories that we think science will be discovering in the near future.
   There is Energy and there is Form, a.k.a. Matter. We keep finding increasingly smaller bits of matter, but there seems to be no end in sight as too how small or big matter can be. Where is the dividing line between Energy and Matter? If Energy can not be created or destroyed, it is Eternal. What is causing the eternal to be confined by the dimensions of time/space? The connection is neither and both finite and infinite. It is only a mental image. Science will come up with a math formula that will take a whole blackboard to write, but this same thought can also be expressed in the form of a simple, short sentence, such as "To be or not to be..." or "I am becoming that which I will become". Words and numbers aren't even required, as long as you "get the picture" in your mind.
   If you ask most people what the fourth dimension is, they will, incorrectly, say Time. If the first dimension is "here to there", the second dimension is perpendicular to it or "left and right". The third dimension will be perpendicular to the first and second or "up and down". Keeping with this series, the fourth dimension will be perpendicular to all of the first three or "bigger and smaller", or Scale. This understanding of dimensions may seem unimportant, but as the world's thinking begins to take it into account, many new doors will open to science.
   Science observes the behavior of the matter in the universe and finds it behaves like there is much more matter than they can see. Science will soon discover that it is like the matter that we can see, but with an added twist, which they will call "Nutation" or wobble. If you spin energy, like a top, that spinning form is what we call matter. If we could "freeze-frame" these units of matter, we would see that the spinning energy is never evenly distributed around the center of rotation. The imbalance of energy is like putting a bowling ball in a washing machine, during the spin cycle. Every unit of matter has a slight wobble to it. Although the frequency or rate of nutation can have a wide spectrum of speeds, there are certain speeds that will be harmonically in tune with other speeds and they will stand apart, like notes in a musical scale. You could be standing next to a person or object and not be able to see it, if the matter in your eyeballs is wobbling at a different rate than the matter that the person or object is made from. Like the spokes on a bicycle wheel, they are there, but you can’t see them. Operators of web fed printing presses, like those used for printing newspapers, use strobe lights to see the printed images as they speed by. Science will soon develop machines to view other forms of matter. Individual humans can develop the ability to see other forms of matter, because their bodies are made up of matter of the different nutational rates. There are various yoga exercises that can help develop an awareness of other grades of matter.

   The speed of light is not a constant. It is already known that light slows down as it gets near mass. What is yet to be discovered is that light also changes speed relative to the scale of the matter being looked at. If you could shrink down in size, to where a single quark is the size of the whole universe, it would take light the same amount of time to cross from one side of the quark to the other as it does to cross the entire universe. Scientist will figure this out, using theory, because they can never build actual machines that can zoom in to the needed frame of reference. Thought is the only thing in the universe that can travel faster than light.
Editor's Note: Following handing in this article, Becky informed me that due to circumstances in real life she felt she would be unable to write further articles for at least until after the end of the year, possibly longer. Hopefully after a short period of rest she will be able to write again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Very Unexpected Thanksgiving Dinner

By Mylie Foxclaw

Finally, I would have the perfect thanksgiving in my life.  I had a date and I would prepare a romantic thanksgiving dinner for the two of us.  I had the menu in mind; in fact I had planned each and every single detail and could already visualize it all!

But nothing went according to the plan.  Since I wanted everything to be perfect, I needed to get started early.  The mashed potatoes and dessert were ready and the turkey was in the oven.  This was the first time I was cooking turkey and I had googled so many recipes to be sure I was on the right track.  I checked the oven and saw that it was nearly ready.  I started to tidy around quickly and then I saw the saucepan on the table.  Oh no!  I had forgotten about the stuffing!

I was no pro in the kitchen but I needed to fix this mess.  I quickly switched the oven off and took the turkey out.  “Let’s add the stuffing fast and put it back in the oven!” I muttered to myself.  I started to get to work when my phone beeped.  I checked the text, smiling to myself.  It was him and he sent me a lovely message saying he could not wait to see me tonight.  I continued to stuff the turkey and was almost done when I heard the beeping sound again.  I looked around for my phone, wondering where it was.  I checked under the table, behind the saucepan, over the fridge, etc.  That’s when I heard it starting to ring, I looked around and screamed in horror as I realised that I had dropped my phone in the stuffing and then I was stuffing the turkey, so it could be inside!  I panicked and started to remove all the stuffing, knowing the clock was ticking!

“If I can spot it, it will be much easier!” I exclaimed and I leaned down and tried to peek inside.  I inched closer until my cheek was rubbing against the warm turkey.  I did spot something lighting inside but I was not sure.  I parted the turkey’s legs so I could get a better look.  I pushed my head inside and I heard it ring.  But that did not come from my turkey!  It was a distant sound.  I started to pull out but got stuck!  It took me a long time until I was finally able to get my head out of that turkey!  As I emerged out, gasping for breath, I noticed that my phone was in the saucepan next to my now tattered turkey.

This was awful!  I called the nearby butcher’s shop to order another turkey but they ran out of stock.  I started to google quickly and saw an advert that said turkey delivery and immediately called and gave them my address.  I went to wash my face and the doorbell rang.  I grabbed my purse and quickly paid the delivery boy who told me he left the turkey in my yard.  I thanked him and went out to fetch it.  That’s when I almost fainted. They sent me a live turkey!

I called the shop and they told me that they were no butchers.  As I checked my watch, I realised that I was running out of time and this turkey would have to do.  I went to fetch my knife and starred at the turkey nervously.

 “Listen, I’m sorry but I have to do this or my thanksgiving dinner will be a real flop,” I muttered to it as I stood there with my knife.

“Glu Glu!!” the turkey responded.

“Okay… here we go!” I shouted and took a few steps back before charging forward, screaming like a real warrior but as the knife got closer to the turkey, I froze in my tracks.  “I can’t do this!” I cried out, tears filling my eyes as I dropped to my knees in front of it, “You’re too cute!”

I dropped the knife and stared at the turkey while it continued to cry out, “Glu Glu! Glu Glu!”

I decided to name the turkey, Glu-Glu.  I checked the time and decided that I could order pizza instead; my date would not mind.  That’s when my phone beeped.  “Nooooo!” I cried out as I read the text.  He got an emergency at work and could not come!  I was so upset.

I stared at Glu-Glu and she stared back at me. Well, I did not want to spend thanksgiving alone, so I went to get ready and Glu-Glu and I had a nice thanksgiving dinner that consisted of dessert and coffee.  It was definitely not the thanksgiving I wanted but Glu-Glu and I had a nice time and we decided to fight for the turkeys rights!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Mylie Foxclaw

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Going Out With A Bang: Madpea Blows Up UNIA Game Area

By Bixyl Shuftan

For about a year and a half, fans of Madpea could play UNIA, an inworld horror game that bedeviled those trying to get through the grounds and it's various monsters such as zombie chickens. Originally slated to close on July 31st, the end was postponed until Halloween, October 31st, with those who hadn't tried it yet offered the gaming HUD for 1 Linden dollar, "With many fond memories of zombie chickens, killer scarecrows and mad cows, it will be sad to see the doors finally close on what was Second Life’s biggest game.  But as we say goodbye to what was the biggest game in Second Life, we also can’t wait to tell you what’s coming next!"

But instead of just simply shutting down, Kiana Writer and her Madpeas decided to make it's end a public event: blowing up the sim in front of everyone who wanted to watch, "Let it rain zombie chickens and dead mad cows.... bring your weapons.. and come over to see how one of the most loved games in the SL history will burn to the ground and only live in our memories!"

Heading over to Madpea Base, and getting to the group of people near the entrance of a drive-in, we found ourselves under assault by zombies, the nearby buildings on fire, and a few cow carcasses nearby. Not far away was a huuuuuge glowing giant chicken. On the drive-in entrance was a countdown clock, with the song "It's the Final Countdown" playing in the last minute. When it reached zero, heck broke loose with buildings falling apart, trees flying through the air, and the sim flooding. To get out of the water, we had to hop on or sit on the drive-in entrance. From there, we saw the place continue to blow up, as more songs like "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" and "It's the End of the World As We Know It" played.

There were more than a few comments about the end. One remarked, "Unia, I was here when you took your first breath, and I'm here as you take your last." Another commented he had been gaming at the last minute to get one item that eluded him, "Doesn't matter that world ends and angry zombie chases me, I need to get that item. it fits with my socks."

Madpea hasn't stated yet what game will take UNIA's place, but no doubt it's fans will be anxiously waiting.

Bixyl Shuftan.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cafe Wellstone, The Twin Political Campaign Buildings, And The Trump Pub

By Bixyl Shuftan

Longtime residents in Second Life may remember Cafe Wellstone, a meeting area for discussion of politically liberal thoughts and topics. As it turns out, the location is still around, yours truly finding out after Any1 Gynoid passed me a landmark to the location it had been moved to since the 2008 election. Named after Paul Wellstone, a US Senator who was killed in a plane crash in 2002, the place showed signs of activity, with a schedule inside of music events. There were also a number of pro-environment and Bernie Sanders signs.

Droping by at the beginning of the third Presidential debate on October 19 at 6PM SL time however, there was only one person around, and he was Away From Keyboard. Perhaps everyone else was busy in real life or otherwise occupied, or perhaps they had gone to the Clinton HQ in Bay City, which the Newser reported on earlier. The place is located at Castle Redwood (245, 160, 21).

Searching for a Trump-themed location, I came across two political HQ buildings in the Hyades sim, both across the street from one another. The taller one was for the Republican nominee Donald Trump, the other for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. But as the buildings rezzed, the Trump building looked more like a jab at the candidate with the politician depicted as holding two glowing crosses, and on the inside were two thrones and a cartoon of him kissing himself. The Clinton one had a twist on the "Don't Tread on Me" rattlesnake flag sometimes used by the Tea Party, which normally sides against her. There was an active club not far away, but it had nothing to do with the taller buildings.

So where are the Trump supporters? The old locations at Portland Main and Seokcheon reported about a year ago are still around, though these seem to be places to advertise and hand out t-shirts and signs rather than organize events. There has been nothing recent like The Trump Organization, which was noted for it's Trump Manor and later on the Trump HQAfter Linden Lab banned it's leader and several others in the group, one whom had been involved with then told me those whom were left were lying low and staying out of trouble.

There was one new Trump-themed location that I found that didn't look like a jab at the candidate: The Trump Pub. Located at The Waterfall Club (217, 231, 2501), the place was more or less built like a pub with a few Trump campaign signs, an "All Lives Matter" pro-police sign, and a couple signs mocking their opposition. Upstairs was a vendor for T-shirts, caps, and other items with the candidate's name. The place is in an Adult-rated sim, and there was an item that was clearly riskee. There's also a guard dog and a security orb, a sign that not everyone coming here has been doing so with friendly intentions.

As the Presidential campaign has less than three weeks before Election Day, in and out of Second Life it stands in great contrast to the one eight years ago in 2008 in which both the Democrat and Republican candidates appealed mainly to the voters' hopes, and in Second Life there was active debate and an official neutral ground. This year, both of the major party candidates are highly unpopular, even among the electorate of their own parties, and the campaign has been a "race to the bottom" with insults, hyperbolic charges, and both have had to deal with embarrassing leaks that raised questions about their characters. Indeed many people I've talked to stated they have given up on politics, one saying American political discussion had deteriorated to the point of resembling the shrieking of monkeys. The days of "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," and "Vote for your hopes, not for your fears," seem a lifetime away.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

SL Poetry: "Incoming Light" And "Real Life Is Calling Me"

   Incoming Light

It was a restful situation
In the middle of the day
A smoke and peanut butter sandwich
My book before me lay
The book had my attention
That book it ate my lunch
'Cause what the man was trying to say
I didn't have a hunch

I couldn't understand his words
On a certain page
So I read them over and over again
Like a mad man on a rage

Then, suddenly I got it
The Truth had opened wide
I thought to give my eyes a rest
And set that book aside
But when my eyes reopened
It wasn't quite the same
The light was getting brighter
In my direction it came

Incoming light
Brighter than the sun
Incoming light
You and I are one
Incoming light
You called me son

The light kept getting brighter
I could see right through my hand
But the hand was made of the very same light
And now I understand
Then blue sky rolled away
And stars before me lay
But not just separate points of light
They're connected in a spiral kind of way

The answer to every question
In this land could be found
But I asked nothing for myself
'Cept how to spread this news around
Then from somewhere up above
A heavenly voice did come
Imagine what it meant to me
When it called me Son

Incoming light
Brighter than the sun
Incoming light
You and I are one
Incoming light
You called me son

Becky Shamen

* * * * *

"Real Life Is Calling Me"

Real Life is call-ling me,
Real Life is call-ling me,
I'm sorry, I can't stay,
I'm sorry, I gotta go,
Real Life is call-ling me.

Maybe there's thunder and lightning,
and me without a surge protector.
Maybe something went "crash" outside,
and it was much bigger than a woodpecker.

Maybe my neighbor called,
and he really really needs a hand,
Or maybe my dog just ate,
a pack of rubber bands.

I don't have time to tell you now,
so you'll just have to take my word,
I'm not signing off because,
I think you're acting like a nerd.

Real Life is call-ling me,
Real Life is call-ling me,
I'm sorry, I can't stay,
I'm sorry, I gotta go,
Real Life is call-ling me.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 17, 2016

Science Friday

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

When the Editor, Bixyl Shuftan, mentioned this destination, he did not have details, but it sounded like the perfect location for this reporter to explore. Bixyl explained that it was a group in Second Life that gets together on Fridays to listen to a NPR radio program, called "Science Friday" and discuss the topics that are covered in the two hour program. Science and Art have been my two greatest interests, throughout this life time. While I am, technically, an amateur, some of my theories could stand their own against those of the pros. When watching science videos, narrated by celebrity scientists, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Bill Nye, I'll debate them in a heart beat. In a group debate, you'll find me sitting on the same side as Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku (my favorite). My top three theories include; What Dark Matter is and why we can't see it, The real story of the Big Bang and The True Shape of the Universe is a Big Donut. Recently, scientists have begun to confirm my donut, calling it a spherical torus.

Determined to find the group and location, we did several searches and found the group that hosts the event. The group's description stated that they conducted Friday meetings and that Second Life comments and questions would be linked to the live radio broadcast, but the location of these meetings was left out. To get the whole story, I joined the group and then opened group chat to ask for the LM. Within minutes, one of the members shared a LM. Armed with a time and place, there was only one question left, for this scientist to ask. What to wear??? Intuition hints that this event might favor coming in human form, so I selected my "Newser-Jade" outfit.  It turns out that, although most were human, we were joined by a cyborg, so it probably isn't important.

When Friday came, I was the first to arrive. in the center, there is a conference table, with a limited number of chairs and around the perimeter there are hanging basket chairs. As a newbie/observer, I selected a basket, with a good view of the room. As members arrived, I was invited to sit at the table. Each time that somebody sits at the table, it increases it's size and number of seats. One of the members, Beragon Betts, sent a friend request. Heavens YES, it's always good to have friends that out-rank us in the member's hierarchy and are more "in the know" than us. Beragon is friendly and helpful and has since come to visit Sunweaver Bay and Sunny Beach's Gathering Oak.

During the Science Friday event, I noticed there didn't seem to be communication between the group gathered and the radio program. I learned that, it had been so, in the past, until Linden Lab regulations stopped it. Linden Lab realized it shot itself in the foot, by ousting non-profit groups and reversed the rules. It may take time to heal, because schools are reluctant to return to teaching in a world that supports sex and vampires, over the acquisition of knowledge.

The radio program provided a number of topics, which we discussed in nearby chat. Some of the members were professional scientists and the group, as a whole, had an above average knowledge in science topics. The first topic was about research of gene editing to create bulls without horns and hey, we all like to talk a little bull, now and then. The second topic was about the continuing AI research needed to get computers to understand the spoken language. The sounds that carry our thoughts to others has always been of great interest to this writer. So much so that, I created my own True Type Font, called "DiJiFon," with a 40 letter phonetic alphabet, with each letter stored in only 8 bits, that can be displayed on any digital watch.
   Attending Science Friday is a great adventure, for it's friendly people and leading edge, on topic discussions. But Wait, there's MORE!!! It's all about Location, Location, Location.
   The Science Friday location is right in the midst of several science sims, including scale models of rockets, landers and satellites. I always get a thrill from the shift in perception of going from seeing it on paper to walking up to and going inside of the full scale model.
   Hop in the cargo bay bed of this Texas size pick-up, because Houston: We are go for launch. Come, 4...3...2...1... your way to some fun and start next week-end  with a sub orbital journey to Science Friday.

Editor's Note: Science Friday did have a presence in Second Life for a while, including the host having an avatar here and taking questions from residents. But in 2010 this came to an end, the cost of virtual land being stated as one of several reasons.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Reader Submitted: Codename: L.E.A.P.F.R.O.G.

By Eric Mouse

I have recently come up with this idea following a dream I had the morning of Sunday the 11th of September, which is right after the day trouble had struck the Surf's Up Beach Club on Sunny Beach from a location outside of it. The dream I got this idea from was about me being a vinyl frog or stuck in a vinyl frog suit while seemingly trapped somewhere unfamiliar and forced to do stuff for someone. It didn't appear that I was actually trapped there since I was able to leave the unfamiliar place I was in while taking something valuable with me.

After I woke up in bed the following morning, I started thinking about this and other things in response to Saturday's issues and the difficulties I had in trying to fix things. I ended up doing some creative thinking as well and came up with Codename: L.E.A.P.F.R.O.G. for a plan name with the ideas I have been thinking about (Loss Emergency And Planning For Relaxation Overtakes Gathering). Even though it is based from being a vinyl frog in the dream I had, the title of the plan is put in a format that is similar to the show called Codename: Kids Next Door that is about a kid run organization named KND.

The reason behind this, is because I have not only thinking about the need for relaxation at the last event gathering at the Surf's Up Beach Club, but also to work on resolving the issues that happened back on Saturday (the 10th of September) which first started with a number of people having problems TPing to the club. All I know is the sim was not at full capacity at the time and it was unknown to me as to what the cause was. Sometime later, I find out the next DJ was having music stream issues with the DJ Board and couldn't seem to figure out what's wrong. The only thing I could find out is someone *may* have forgotten to switch the music stream over to the other DJ.

Around that time, I also had stuff going on in RL on my end which I needed to tend to and needed to step away for a it. By the time I came back to check on things, I found everyone had already left as me, Lilly, and Elfin were the only ones left. At that time, I also noticed the contest board had never gotten switched over to allow voting for who the winning is going to be as it was still open for people to enter the contest. I and realized something else had gone wrong. Upon trying to find out what had happened to the DJ, I learned they have had several emergencies and couldn't do their job at the Surf's Up Beach Club.

All I could find out is they (had problems) in real-life as well as sim (trouble) happening elsewhere back on Purrfection which had nothing to do with the club or Sunny Beach in general. ... It seems I may have made things worse when I tried to investigate what the cause of this was and that the DJ in question might not come back. The only suggestion I have gotten at this point from a couple others, is to send out a group notice for the possible need for another DJ the next time there is going to be an event at the Surf's Up Beach Club.

To make sure something like this doesn't happen, I may need to have at least one backup DJ available to takeover at a moment's notice. I have also been thinking about the other things Mythica Woodland in Sunny Beach has as well that probably haven't been seen by many let alone talked about. Things such as is the cuddle and relaxation area by the fire and lake, the areas where you can sail around with a sailboat, the surfing wave on the northern end, the hilltop cannons that you can shoot cannonballs from, the possibility of a fishing area coming in, the under development mystical forest of light that could be for exploration and getting to see the moogles that are there.

What I feel, is I feel there is the need to begin incorporating the other ideas here into the weekly gatherings at the Surf's Up Beach Club by exploring the different areas that are available including any new ideas that may come up. Even though I'm not sure where exactly to begin with this, the wild west adventure I had with Becky got me thinking about role play ideas. This probably wouldn't be a problem with me as I have written a role play layout before, but yet properly show it to the public.

Erik Mouse

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Commentary: "Drawing Board"

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

  Our adventure today is not about a sim or group of them. It is about all of the SL World Grid. We will be looking into the heart and soul that animates this world. Last month, we wrote about Creations for Parkinson's and became friends with Barbie Alchemi, it's creator. Since then, I have been attending their Sunday night dances which, in addition to the inspirational music, always includes a topic for things of a spiritual nature. My companion, Erik, has attended and the guests all love him. His comments, on the topic, were well received and they thanked him for his "wonderful insights"

   In private chats, Barbie and I talked of our experiences with the therapeutic uses of Second Life. We both knew of people whose real lives had been improved because of their SL experiences. We both admitted that as a major part of our SL Raison d'Etre. We come here to bring Love, Light and Healing, in service to others. I explained my evolving theory, that Second Life was like a drawing board for the new Age of Aquarius. Meteorologists use computer modeling to track and predict storms. They can run many variations of data to get the most likely prognosis. Have you ever noticed that time seems to flow at a different speed in SL? The six plus years I have been here, feels more like decades. We'll leave it to the accountants to figure out how much that is in "dog years". The thing is, regardless of the time difference, we still learn the same lessons from our experiences. Because of our hyper time, we can test out one "happily ever after" theory after another, until we get it right, in far less than the many life times it would take in real-life. We learn quickly, the difference between what is good and what is better.

   In real life, you have, no doubt heard that we are entering "The Age of Aquarius," a cosmic upgrade of the world's OS, which will make life, as we know it, a whole lot better game. What will the new age world be like? Well that answer would fill a shelf of  books, but fortunately, a good friend of mine, J.J. Dewey, has just published his "quick list" and it is a good summary of things i have heard over many years. The items on the list are not for debate. We are all entitled to our own opinions. Any disagreements with the ideas would only happen if the author's definition of terms are not understood. You can read more of JJ's writings at

The World to come
(1) A world without borders – no passports needed
(2) One where brotherhood, goodwill and inclusiveness set the tone so we have right human relations.
(3) One where the Haves share with the Have-Nots so extreme poverty is abolished.
(4) There is to be a one-world government that unifies the world without becoming a tyranny.
(5) This will lead to a secure peace on earth.
(6) There will be a one-world religion which will basically be the world acknowledging through free will that certain universal principles are true.
(7) People will be influenced more by mind and reason than by lower emotion and being reactionary.
(8) People will becomes less materialistic and focus more on the spiritual.
(9) Christ and his associate Masters of Wisdom will walk openly among us as teachers of the human race.

   Personally, this sounds like a good plan and I have spent many years trying to help bring about this new OS for Earth. I also do my small part in getting these ideals tested by the residents of Second Life. I could go down the list and mentioned ways I worked them into the minds of others, but this is not about me. Instead, I will turn these questions to the readers.

Do you think this sounds like the kind of world you'd like to live in?
Are you willing to help build this world?
Are you willing to be it's beta tester in Second Life?
   If you have any ideas on this new world topic and would like to share them with us, SL Newser welcomes Reader submitted articles for publication.

  When I mentioned that I was about to write this article, to the dancers at Creations, Erik made a comment that I wanted to quote.
"I actually thought that SL is more like a world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it is the part of the hopes and dreams of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries."

I couldn't have said it any better,"


Friday, August 19, 2016

Commentary: Misconceptions About Virtual Worlds

By Wesley Regenbogen

You might be wondering why my last article was many months ago.
I was trying to get in contact with real-life organizations for a fundraiser that I wanted to start up in Second Life. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a positive reply from the real-life organizations. So I’m calling it a day with my fundraiser idea. This is sad, because I wanted to start a fundraiser for the real life research on real life genetic disorders. Since I have beta thalassemia trait ( minor ), I wanted to support the research on it. But not only for blood disorders, but for general research on genetic disorders in real life.
But, due to misconceptions that are in the real life world about virtual worlds ( Second Life, InWorldz and others ) it’s not easy to convince real life organizations to let people fundraise for their cause. The most common misconception is that they think it’s a “game.” Or more frequently they think it’s all about “porn and sex." The result of these preconceptions that the real life world has towards the virtual worlds, is that most people don’t know what virtual worlds are and what their potential is.
I refer to my first article for the SL Newser. It was about my vision towards virtual worlds. I don’t see virtual worlds as being a “game.” They are much more than that!!!
If organizations and other people with preconceptions would be more open-minded about the virtual worlds, then they would see what potential that those virtual worlds would have and that might change their minds. Rather then thinking that virtual worlds are just a “game” or only for “porn” and “sex” stuff, it would be wiser to take a leap and see further than what reaches your mind. Because virtual worlds offer much more than the above mentioned “activities.”
If the real life world would embrace virtual worlds and see their possibilities, they would be even more successful as they are today.
So, it’s better to look at Second Life and other virtual worlds as being a “virtual world” and not like yet another “game.” Because virtual worlds lack the need to fulfill objectives and stuff like that. This makes virtual worlds not to be defined as being “games.”
Let me know what you guys think about this in the comments, please.

Wesley Regenbogen

Friday, June 24, 2016

Update on the Politcal Locations

By Bixyl Shuftan

Since it was revealed that the Trump HQ and Manor had moved out from the Lionheart Ahadi sim, and a Hillary Clinton HQ erected in it's place, there have been a few developments on the political side of Second Life. When I dropped by to interview Candace Larganta, the owner of the Clinton HQ, there was a new Trump building next to it, this one with "Hillary for Prison" signs. I would later get in contact with JP Laszlo, and he would confirm, "Yes that is (by) myself, myself and my friend." When asked why he didn't leave a marker at the old location, "Biding my time.....I also don't have anywhere for people to go so I'm mainly just putting the sign there to irritate the Hillary people."

About when the new Trump HQ would be open to the public, JP stated he couldn't give a date due to complications, "Wish I could. I wish I knew myself, I really do. My builder is tied down at work and grabbing every spare minute they can. Be aware though the tone of the place has shifted somewhat tongue in cheek. ... It is more of a hangout and less of a serious HQ anymore. Trump supporters come here, even non Trump supporters. We all have a good time and the sim is Trump-themed but beyond the theme we aren't pushing an agenda."

Of their new build, JP stated it was being based on the building in a rather strange video titled "Japanese Donald Trump Commercial," saying of the build,"The style is authoritarian vaporwave. It's going to be very abstract and surreal. ... the capital building is a sim length, takes up the whole north end of the sim. It's (one) quarter hangout, (one) quarter art project, (one) quarter political expression, and a quarter personal project."

JP stated that the Sanders HQ in Caspoli was gone, "Well, Bernie's campaign is over. He hasn't got a chance. So why would they waste money on land?" JP was a little unhappy with them over the earlier accusations about their Trump Wall trying to infect people with a computer virus, "My friend was putting up endless signs to get them to apologize for saying she tried to infect people with a virus over the whole teleport thing. In the Bernie group they sent a notice saying they were closing partly due to 'ongoing harassment.' Well I'm sorry if asking for an apology for defaming remarks is harassment in her book, good riddance. ... I am sure even yourself would feel injustice of being accused of such things when you were merely attempting to engage in friendly banter." When I mentioned the "less than friendly banter, thrown around by members of both parties," JP responded, "Sure is, but one cannot control what others do. All one can do is aspire to fight a clean fight by ones words and actions. And I assure you I have done just that in real life and Second Life. I have played by the rules and punched above the belt."

Dropping by the Caspoli sim, the Sanders HQ location was indeed gone, the area now an unspoiled beach instead of a monument to what might have been. But heading to "Feel the Bern" at Young (162/26/2018), the location was still up. Somehow, the sign "I assure you, we're open" sign seemed a little more prominent. When I contacted the owner, Addie Tozz, she would only respond that she would continue to support Sanders.

Following my interview with her, Candace Larganta informed me there was a new Clinton HQ that had gone up, this one in Bay City, at (Argos 36, 253, 25). Dropping by, it was a two-story brick building. On the inside was a podium where someone could give a speech to a small crowd, with American and Bay City flags on either side of the stage. To the right were givers for free Clinton T-shirts, both men's and women's, and campaign signs for Clinton and "Dump Trump." Upstairs there was a simpler stage with a Clinton campaign poster behind it that looked a tad propagandish.

Across the street, it was clear a Trump supporter was out to "irritate the Hillary people." Someone had set up a huge (or is that huuuge) "Trump: Make America Great Again" sign. But later on, one of Bay City's residents showed me a picture that showed the locals were more than capable of matching the Trump supporters jabs with their own humor: "Cheese: Make America Grate Again."

So what else will the Trump supporters do in Bay City? We're "nacho" sure.

Stay tuned for more political news in Second Life as one of the more unique US Presidential elections in recent history is reflected in the virtual world.

Sources: Flavorwire

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More on the Clinton HQ

By Bixyl Shuftan

In early June, it was discovered that the Trump Manor and HQ in the Lionheart Ahadi sim was gone, later discovered to have moved. In it's place was a different building supporting Trump's opponent: Hillary Clinton. The building had been set up by Candace Larganta (candacelarganta). Eventually, an interview was arranged, and Candace and I sat down to talk.

"How did you find out about Second Life?" I asked her.

"Well, I heard about it around 2004," Candance answered, "but I didn't have a powerful enough computer at that time. And then a few years back, a friend said I should revisit it, especially in regards to the animatic capabilities. I'm involved with film production and run a post=production company in real life, mostly editorial for film and music videos. So, we'd come to SL to make basic backgrounds for green screens. Windlight is perfect for that. It's fast and easier to use, at least for me, than creating something in after effects."

"Eventually, we moved off of Second Life, and now do animatics on an OpenSim server at work. So, I never really started here to socialize, but to create. I've seen some wonderful things here -- very beautiful and inspiring. That's kind of it."

"How did you get the idea to build this location?" I asked.

"I'm an active gamer and 3D environment enthusiast," she told me, "and read Wagner James Au's blog. That's how I found the Trump sim. I visited a few times, and even participated in the 'raid' from the nearby sim. It was in Kotaku. A couple weeks back, I wnated to revisit. But the Trump site was gone. Seeing that Bernie and Trump had something of a presence, although it's quite a small number in regards to the total SL population, I wanted to do something for Hillary supporters. It was just too good to pass up this opportunity and stake a claim, especially since their was the Trump TP landmark in all the blogs. And the first rule of campaigning is never move your URLs or landmarks. (laughter) Obviously, that not really into Trump. I'm guessing it's a RP type of thing."

"How long did it take to build this location?" I asked about the build.

"A matter of hours," Candace answered, "and I've been dressing it up since.I do a lot of building in OpenSim, so it's easy to set up." "Was anything difficult at all?" "As far as set up? No, no dificulties actually."

I then asked, "I take it after the place went up, there was no shortage of confused visitors?"

"Still they arrive," Candace told me, then laughed a bit, "It seems half of them are very pleased that it's a Hillary site, and the other half are bewildered. My goal was to make a place to find info - and I'm still creating informational boards, and redirect those interested to real-life resources." "Basic information about the candidate?" "Yes, but more importantly to stake a presence. After all, it may be a better use of my resources to donate the 'rent' from this site to the Clinton campaign. Yet, I still think it's important to have a presence here."

While she talked, I panned around, looking inside the building. There was an office with pictures and campaign posters on the upper floor, and something else, "It does certainly draw attention ... I notice a few rooms besides the main one, including a kitchen and a ... computer server room?" That, I felt, would get people thinking of Clinton's email controversy still under investigation by the FBI. This was something I would expect from an anti-Clinton area, not one supporting her.

"Well yes," she answered, "I'm not here to pitch a product, but to show a reality,  that our candidate is human, fraught with flaws, yet still the best choice." She then drew my attention to a build with a "Hillary for Prison" sign, "As you can see, there are some who think she should go to prison for what is essentially, a policy issue, not a criminal infraction. And it's just screwy thinking." "I noticed the building nearby," I commented. Candace giggled, "Yes, JP Trump's monument of creativity. Old Woodbury University assets (Woodbury was a sim with a reputation for harboring griefers years ago). If that's what floats their boat, more power to 'em."

I then brought up, "When I talked to him, and the owners of the Sanders locations, they told me some visitors with opposing views were civil, but they also had their share of griefers. How has it been here?"

"Some have been very cool to speak with," Candace told me, "Quite enjoyable actually; they know they RPing a position. The others are, well, not that interesting... followers, bored people at computers. I think of each avatar as the embodiment of an end-user somewhere out there. I'm not here to debate, however - I'm here to provide a space. I'd much rather use my energy in real-life politicking for that." "So no real problems with griefers?" "They try, I suppose, but I could (care) less, seriously. It means they are thinking about Hillary. I very much doubt that they are even US constituents though. I notice British locations all the time, (and) Americans never use the word 'mate' or 'whilst.' But that's just a hunch." "So you think the ones closest to being griefers are from overseas?" "It's possible. It struck me as odd, that's all. And I think someone had mentioned that JP Trump is based in the UK.I think I read that in Kotaku." "JP did say something about having an Irish background. And one of the flags at the manor was Irish." "Maybe that's it. I don't take them seriously at all. They are roleplaying being Trumpgoons and that's fantastic, keeps them off the streets (grin)."

I then asked, "So with the primary season over, what are your plans for the HQ in the future?"

Candace answered, "We're going to dismantle after July 4 and pop back up around September, or October, when things really get going. Summer is very snoozy." "Labor Day has been when things started to heat up in the past." "Oh yeah, that's a good time, definitely. (It) depends on work commitments for me as well, butit should be easy and quick to set up a new spot." "Any idea where that will be, or here if it's still open?" "I don't know yet - Lionheart is very well run. But it may be better to move elsewhere.. we'll make that determination later on." 

"Can you tell us your plans for after Election Day?" I asked. "I'd have to think that one out. For Second Life, no idea. In real life, a nonstop 24hour celebration of Hillary's win. This is perhaps the most important election in the last 50 years."

"How is this election so more important than the others?" I then asked.

"There is a cultural and class cold war being fought in the US right now," Candace answered, "Ignorance is an outright virtue (for the opposition), as is uncivil behavior. If a majority of Americans choose the path that trump provides - it really calls into question our role as world leaders, thinkers, makers. And I don't think that will help out in matters of economics or security. However, I don't think that a majority of Americans want to go down that road. But if they don't get out the vote - well, then we're sunk into a Presidency that is based on whim rather than rationale. That's frightening."

It was about this time that the interview came to an end, and Candace and I gave each other our goodbyes. Later on, Candace would message me there was a new Clinton HQ in Bay City at Argos (36, 253, 25).

Lionheart Ahadi (151/7/28)

Nixyl Shuftan

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Press Release: "Down But Not Out" Discussion at The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island (Full)

We invite you to attend the symposium and tell your friends about it. In fact, bring them along, especially if they are skeptical about the value of virtual worlds.

See below for details about the presenters and their topics, and join us on the 18th of June as we explore latest approaches in the improvement of quality of life for people with mental illness.

SATURDAY June 18, 2016
Times listed are US Pacific Daylight Time/Second Life Time.

8:30am - Brain Mechanism Linking Stress and Illness, Dr. Vanja Duric
Significant research evidence suggests that psychological and physical stress is a powerful driving force behind both the etiology of and comorbidity between psychiatric and systemic disorders. This is supported by clinical observations that psychiatric symptoms and mental illness are commonly present in patients with chronic systemic diseases. Indeed, mood disorders such as depression are present in up to 50% of these patients, often resulting in impaired physical recovery and more complex treatment regimen. Here we will discuss the recent physiological evidence linking chronic stress and systemic illness, such as activation of the immune response system and release of common inflammatory mediators. Finally, discovery of new drug targets is needed for development of better treatments for stress-related psychiatric illnesses as well as improvement of mental health aspects of different systemic diseases.

Presenter Bio:
Dr. Duric is an Assistant Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Des Moines University in Iowa (US) where he is doing neurobiology research on brain events that underlie pathophysiology and treatment of mental illnesses, especially major depressive disorder (MDD). His primary focus is investigating the relationship between the inhibition of a major cellular signaling pathway that is involved in neuronal survival and development of depression. Dr. Duric is also interested in brain mechanisms that link depression and other neurological or systemic illnesses, such as chronic pain.

10:00am - Understanding the Emotional Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis, Andrea Arzt
Although Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a physical disability, it can have emotional consequences.  Initially, a newly diagnosed individual goes through an emotional grieving process. As the disease progresses and nerve cells in the brain become demyelinated, the damage can cause emotional changes. Additionally, some MS medications can affect emotions. Treating the emotional aspects of MS is as important as dealing with the physical health issues.

Presenter Bio:
Andrea Arzt, LCSW is Associate Vice President of Clinical Programs and Direct Services for the New York City-Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society (US). She has worked for over 25 years with individuals with chronic illness and disabilities and their families.  Her special interest has been in working with people living with neurological diseases and injuries, with a focus for the past 13 years on Multiple Sclerosis.  In her current position at the National MS Society, she works closely with health care professionals who treat people with MS, and with MS researchers. She provides trainings on MS and psychosocial and emotional issues for professionals and as well as for people living with MS, and she develops programs for families and caregivers.

11:30am - Hippocrates Wept: Psychologically Surviving Modern Medicine During A Health Crisis, Colleen Crary, M.A. (SL: Anya Ibor)
So, you have an illness, and you think modern medicine can help. Think again: Often, fixing one medical problem can cause, multiply, or magnify other health issues. The stress over facing one’s mortality, the financial burden of illness, and the psychological effects of some
medications can be overwhelming. Learn how to psychologically navigate a profit-driven, “patient last” health care system before and during a health crisis. Take control over your care per your unique physiology and psychology.

Presenter Bio:
Colleen Crary is Anya Ibor in Second Life. A PTSD expert and advocate, Colleen/Anya is a tireless champion for international mental health policy and common sense solutions. Founder and CEO of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, she promotes care for all PTSD sufferers, their families, friends, and clinicians, war veterans, law enforcement personnel, emergency response workers, those traumatized by sexual abuse, child abuse, torture, human trafficking, hostage events and crime, man-made and natural disasters, and physical, psychological, and verbal trauma.

1:00pm - The ABCs of DBT, Rienna Rieko
What is DBT? DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the 1980's to help people who struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder. The therapy mixes Zen Buddhist ideologies with Cognitive Behavior Therapy. While it was designed for people with a very specific disorder, the skills DBT teaches, such as learning how to be more present in today using Mindfulness techniques, learning how to be more effective in the area of Interpersonal Effectiveness, learning how to end suffering by engaging in Radical Acceptance, Improving the Moment and how to Distract and Self Soothe when life isnt easy, are useful for anyone in any set of circumstances.

Presenter Bio:
Rienna Rieko has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and worked as a sober companion for a substance abuse treatment facility that specializes in Amino Acid protocols. In her time there, she used Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills with her clients and taught them how to put them into practice. She has used DBT in her own life for ten years and enjoys teaching the skills to everyone she knows because everyone can benefit from learning how to use them.

2:30pm - Faith & Health: Research, Clinical Applications, and Resources, Dr. Harold Koenig
Religion and spirituality play a role in coping with illness, loss and trauma. Dr. Koenig will review research on the relationships between religion, spirituality and mental health, with a focus on depression.  His research led to development of a proposed spiritually-oriented psychotherapy for the treatment of moral injury in veterans and active duty military with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Dr. Koenig will also speak about research on religion/spirituality and physical health, with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.  He will explain how religious involvement positively influences health in monotheistic religious traditions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).  He will explore applications to clinical practice, and describe his current study to integrate spirituality into patient care in outpatient physician practices.

Presenter Bio:
Dr. Koenig is Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health and Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, Georgia, US. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Health, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, People’s Republic of China. Dr. Koenig has published extensively in the fields of mental health, geriatrics, and religion, and his research on religion, health and ethical issues in medicine has been featured in popular journalism. His latest book is Health and Well-being in Islamic Societies. Dr. Koenig has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the benefits of religion and spirituality on public health.

4:00pm - Mental Health Outreach in Second Life: Past, Present, and Future, Dr. Tammy Fletcher (SL: Avalon Birke)
We will look back on a decade of mental health resources in Second Life – where we have been, where we are now, and some goals for the future. What worked, what didn’t, and ways we can continue to offer quality, ethical support for SL residents.

Presenter Bio:
Tammy Fletcher is Avalon Birke in Second Life, founder of Wellness Island (2006-2011), Second Life’s first sim devoted entirely to mental health resources for residents. As one of the first practitioners to bring mental health resources into Second Life in 2006, Dr. Fletcher has worked to help SL residents become educated consumers, and to bridge to RL services when needed. She founded “Guiding Lights,” a formal program of instruction for peer counselors in Second Life, and established gridwide “SOS” kiosks for residents needing RL emergency referrals anywhere in the world. In her real life, Dr. Fletcher is an author, educator, advocate, and licensed psychotherapist. She maintains an active private practice, where she specializes in treating anxiety and depressive disorders from an integrative perspective. Dr. Fletcher has been featured twice in programs by SL machinimist Draxtor Despres, discussing mental health and advocacy in a virtual environment.

5:00pm - Poetic Reflections
This will be a welcome change of pace, a presentation of poetry written by talented individuals, exploring at the human aspect of living with mental illness.

6:00pm - Lifestyle Medicine and Supplementation for Mental Health and Psychiatric Disorders, Dr. Jerome Sarris

An examination of the use of nutraceutical supplements in mental health treatment.

Presenter Bio:
As an NHMRC Clinical Senior Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Sarris has a particular interest in anxiety and mood disorder research pertaining to complementary and lifestyle medicine, nutraceuticals, and integrative mental health. Author of numerous publications and recipient of significant research grants, Dr. Sarris advocates for an integrative approach to mental health through evidence-based use of lifestyle modification, psychological techniques, and both complementary and standard pharmacotherapy.

7:30pm - The National Disability Insurance Scheme - Supporting Australians Living With Mental Health Issues, Louse Dibbs and Lyn Ainsworth
Australia has made an extraordinary commitment to major social reform with the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – Australia’s response to its commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. The associated reforms shift support from a welfare model to an entitlement or rights based model, and are designed to provide greater choice and control for people with disabilities, and better personal outcomes. However, the road to having mental illness recognised and well supported under the scheme has not been straightforward. After a period of discourse and advocacy during the trial site stage, people living with a Psychological or Psychiatric Diagnosis, as their primary disability, have been recognised as entitled to supports. This means that people with recurring, chronic or significant long term mental health issues have access to resources to develop holistic support plans that foster better long term personal outcomes. HWNS has been a lead provider in the NDIS launch site in the Hunter Region, NSW, Australia where we have supported more than 400 people to transition to the scheme. A significant number of these people have a Psychological or Psychiatric Diagnosis  as their primary or only disability.  We will present two case studies to demonstrate the enhanced possibilities and outcomes the NDIS is providing as a result of access to holistic planning and the implementation of individualised supports.

Presenter Bio:
About Louise Dibbs:
Louise has had a 15 year journey working in the community sector, commencing as a frontline worker, progressing to supervisory roles and finally most recently in senior management.  Louise also has several years experience in the corporate/business sector as a Human Resource professional which has embedded a strong customer experience ethos in her work. She has a Master of Arts in Psychology and is a certified trainer and assessor. In the past 3 years Louise has been working for House with No Steps in one of the key National Disability Insurance Schemes launch sites, in the Hunter region. Louise has worked with teams to transition approx. 400 participants to the Scheme. Louise's interests and work passions include Human Rights, organisational change, mentoring/coaching, developing individuals and teams, influencing and leading, and  designing systems. Outside of work, Louise enjoys anything active or travel related, with her husband and three teenage daughters.

About Lyn Ainsworth:
Ms Lyn Ainsworth, Head of Strategy, Excellence & Innovation at House with No Steps has 18 years executive management experience in the disability sector, including her current role with House with No Steps, one of Australia’s largest disability services non-government organisations. HWNS has been at the forefront of the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Australia’s response to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability, and extraordinary social reform. Lyn is a lawyer by background and has supported organisational transformation around Human Rights as well as having leadership responsibility for HWNS’ international accreditation with the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL).

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Few Words From Deaflegacy

By Deaflegacy

“Hi, I'm DeafLegacy, and this is my story.” 
I'm nine months old on Second Life.  I was introduced to this virtual world by someone who I used to know. I made new friends through Virtual Ability. “There is always something new on Second Life that still amazes me,” I tell people. There is so much to it than just being deaf. There's speech disorder that I have to deal with every day because I'm the only deaf person where I'm living in real life.
Second Life has given me many chances to be who I am without any fear of misunderstanding. When I was new, I met Gentle Heron, who then introduced me to Virtual Ability. Within the Virtual Ability community, I was given a chance not only to rent an apartment, but to be able to learn what it is like to have a house on a land parcel.  I chose to go back to the apartment, saying that it would be for the best if I lives in a small place.
For many years, I have always dreamed of becoming a writer. One day, I met Bixyl Shuftan, the editor of Second Life Newser. That's when I realized that I have a chance to become a writer and grabbed it. Ever since then, not only am I writing for the SL Newser, I'm also taking photographs for the articles. “This is more than just one chance,” I told someone. “I would definitely say that it is a once in a lifetime chance to prove how good I am at writing.” I pointed out that because of my deafness, English is not my first language. It is my second language. “American Sign Language is my first language. I learned it when my mother first found out that I'm deaf.”
Deaf or not, I have believed that I really wanted to be a writer, “I owe the Virtual Ability and the Second Life Newser team a lot of thanks. I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for them.”


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

News and Commentary: Political Opposition Against Trump HQ Continues

By Bixyl Shuftan

Last week, I wrote more about the "Trump Wall" erected towering over the Sanders HQ by Trump supporters, in what the head of the Trump HQ JP Laszlo called a prank. Since then, there's been more written about the drama between the two groups of supporters, and the Trump HQ. The "Washington Liberals" blog  posted about the wall and people griefing the Sanders HQ, as did Motherboard. One picture posted by Washington Liberals which has been reprinted in several other articles, including a New World Notes article by Hamlet Au last week, shows "demons," which are among the "vampire" avatars available to newcomers to Second Life on day one, described as harassing people there with "Trump! Trump!" spam.

Jeff Grubb of "Venture Beat" was also curious and went inworld to check out the Trump HQ, "Second Life is still weird. The 2016 United States Presidential election is weird, but the Internet is doing its best to prove it can always get stranger." Comparing the people he met in the place to 4chan users, "... it's not offensive when it's sad. ... They think they are so brash, and they are if you take them at face value. But mostly, they just seem lonely. You can laugh at that. I certainly did. But that wears off quickly....You can tell all anyone in the Trump HQ wants is to offend people. I have that desire as well, but it’s something that I’ve tried to outgrow." Despite being briefly banned after a joke, that had nothing to with politics, taken the wrong way, he stated that overall he was seen as okay as long as the subject of politics didn't come up. But when on to say when he took people to task over certain issues, the mood turned defensive, "Predictably, the Trump fans went with their well-worn defense mechanism: 'Every example of racism is a joke or a liberal troll trying to make Trump look bad.'"

Another issue that's come up is the use of a flax mixing the Nazi swastika with the Trump name, which Sanders HQ owner Macaria Wind snapped a picture of, "There is a picture I managed to capture of one of the flags spewing from a particle dispenser at HQ," she told Hamlet Au, "Left there by one of Trump's supporters when no one was around." JP Lazlo has previously admitted such trolling takes place, but "I am not responsible for every troll claiming to be a Trump supporter, just as she is not responsible for every troll claiming to be for Bernie." There's also that the Nazi flag is universally reviled by liberals and conservatives alike, appealing only to a tiny few reactionaries who dismiss both of them. Since the individuals displaying such banners are unnamed, it's less than clear whether it's by some extremist acting out for reasons of politics, or by a troll who just wants to cause trouble.

For some however, they have seen enough and feel it's time for Linden Lab to take action. This week, Hamlet Au wrote a commentary stating that Linden Lab needs to shut down the Trump HQ for repeated violations of Second Life's community standards. Hamlet made a comparison to the Confederate flag controversy last year (of which I had a differing opinion than his). But Linden Lab didn't ban the flag from the virtual world, just quietly remove it from the Marketplace some time since he and I wrote about the issue (NWN article), though stores were sill free to sell it inworld. Banning the Trump HQ and it's group like it did the Woodbury group which had become infamous for being a griefer hangout (especially among my furry friends) years ago, would be difficult for Linden Lab to pull off without looking like it was taking sides in politics, and could risk alienating it's more conservative members, even those who have problems with the brash candidate. Hamlet's argument that these are not supporters of a political candidate but trolls using politics as an excuse to grief can easily get lost in the passions of an election campaign, particularly those of recent years in which people whom once saw supporters of the other party as simply having a difference of opinion are increasingly questioning their judgement, ethics, sanity, and intentions.

With Trump's remaining opponents for the Republican nomination dropping out last night and today following the results of the Indiana primary, the candidate's victory there is simply a formality. Sander's victory there over Clinton is a needed morale boost to the "Berners," and a reminder to the Democrats' own establishment they intend to take the race all the way to the last state. So it's likely for a few more weeks the tension between the political groups in Second Life will continue. But with the Democratic front-runner having such a huge lead in pledged and unpledged delegates combined, the best he can reasonably hope for is a brokered convention. Most likely the nomination will go to Clinton. As she has failed to inspire the same kind of enthusiasm Sanders has, it's possible rather than change the names of their locations from Sanders to Clinton, Second Life's "Berners" at the Sanders HQ and the new "Feel the Bern" hangout in the Young sim may simply take down their political banners and devote their Second Lives to other activities. And deprived of a target, both the Trump group and the trolls acting in the candidates name could get bored and lose interest. Which is probably what Linden Lab is hoping for. But if the Sanders HQ and "Feel the Bern"can be convinced to get behind the establishment Democrat, it's going to be "interesting times" in Second Life for those with a taste in politics, and a headache for the Lab which no doubt wanted people to pay attention to the virtual world for reasons other than "cyber noogie," but not like this.

Sources: Washington Liberals, Motherboard, VentureBeat, New World Notes, CNN 

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

News and Commentary: More on The Trump Wall

By Bixyl Shuftan

While many come to Second Life to escape debates of issues in real life, others see it as a method of discussing them. Of the latter, different people react differently to opposing points of view. Some respectfully disagree and concentrate on getting their own message across. Others try to engage in debate. But sometimes different people have different ideas about what the rules of such debates should be.

Eight years ago in 2008, interest in US politics grew as an incumbent President was in his last year of office, and both parties fielded candidates about who would take his place. During the primaries, several headquarters were set up by supporters. Eventually, three centers of political debate arose: the GOP Cafe for conservatives, Cafe Wellstone for the liberals, and Capitol Hill as an officially neutral location. Between the first two, and other political themed locations, there were close-minded individuals who showed up just to vent and demonize, as well as outright griefers, and more or less levelheaded individuals whom more more interested in dialogue. But for the most part, they left each other alone. The most active night politically that year was of course Election Night 2008.

Eight years later, it's a much different kind of Presidential Election as one candidate has succeeded while breaking so many unwritten rules. And in Second Life, there is no longer an mutual agreement for the two sides to leave each other alone, at least the two most vocal camps of the political supporters.

In late March 2016, JP Laszlo, a supporter of candidate Donald Trump built the "Trump Manor." Intended as both a private residence for her and a few friends as well as showing off her support for the Republican outsider politician, she found the place the subject of no shortage of attention, getting the attention of media from within and outside Second Life, including the Newser. However, it also got the attention of griefers, leading her to install a security system that limited access, and caused a little confusion. About the same time, Macaria Wind built the "Bernie Sanders Second Life Headquarters" to help inform others about the outsider candidate for the Democrats. Although griefers were a problem as well, her reaction was to boot them when she came across them, but keep the place open.

In response to the attention, JP Laszlo with the help of friends built the Trump HQ, Here, anyone could walk in and talk. JP and her group reserved the right to ban those they saw as griefers, but when I talked to her did say they managed to win some over to their side.  But this wasn't all that happened. Others in her group bought up some land next to the Sanders HQ, and erected a huge wall that towered over it. As one of Trump's repeated promises is to build a border wall between the US and Mexico, one couldn't help but make a comparison. But the wall was more like a tower as people could easily fly or teleport around it. Plastered with US flags and campaign signs, the top had a picture that taunted Macaria Wind and her supporters, "We have twenty times more traffic! I keep winning! You can't stump the Trump!"

When I invited her to talk about the wall, Macaria stated she was busy, but did sent me a notecard.She had this to say about the structure:

As for the Trump Wall, there is not much to say. It is on a rented parcel and was apparently set up to serve as an annoyance to me and other Bernie supporters. One of my group members said when he clicked on the sign on the wall to go to Trump HQ, it tried to take over his av - he suggested it wanted to install a virus. Several Bernie group members have been to Trump's HQ and reported hearing racial slurs, vulgar language and, in general, hate speech. Several Trump supporters have griefed us here at HQ while others have come just to check it out and still others have visited and had intelligent conversations with our group members. So, it does, indeed, take all kinds...

While I aspire to an attitude of compassion and kindness, I also say "to each his own". I believe in karma, what goes around comes around and we reap what we sow. Though it is absolutely, without doubt, essential to be aware of the evil around us, I believe it is not helpful to focus on it, therefore, I treat the wall the same way I treat Trump's campaign - I mostly ignore it. 

The claim that the wall can spread viruses is false. The only method in which Second Life users have caught malware through their viewers is the media stream. JP Laszlo, whom now has the display name "JP Trump," explained it was a way to teleport oneself to the Trump HQ, "It's an experience request, for an experience based scripted teleport: . Standard Second Life stuff."

JP and I talked on a couple occasions, once at the Trump Headquarters, and once after I spotted her hovering near the top of the Trump Wall. At the HQ, "she" spoke in Voice, revealing "herself" as male behind the computer, now sporting a furred female look rather than the anime girl she had earlier, with a "big smiley face" armband. The place had quite a crowd, some speaking in voice, some in chat. The place was more of a hangout than a location where one could get information, though there was a media stream with one of his speeches and freebie hats. There were a number of pictures around, and a few props of gaming culture such as a Nintendo controller seat and a Pac-Man barbecue, JP saying just because (s)he and his/her friends were gamers was no reason not to take them seriously.

While I was there, there was no "racist" language or "hate speech," but a polite debate on the merits of the Sanders campaign and someone suggesting the two candidates, both of whom are considered outsiders, should cooperate. The closest thing to a griefing was some wag over Voice propositioning JP to a "yiff," which (s)he politely turned down.

Of the Trump Wall, (s)he stated it was done all in the name of fun, "It's friendly banter you understand nothing serious. But Mac doesn't seem to have a sense of humor about it. She's banned me even though I've never even been to her land other than to stand there. ... We see this as a bit of fun, the wall I mean. They should lighten up and put some banter up themselves. We try to have a sense of humor."

In Voice, JP did mention something about someone else nearby trying pulling off a joke at their expense, though didn't seem to think too much of it. When I later looked, among the Trump HQ's neighbors was a plot that looked like a crude metal shelter cobbled together from a post-apocalyptic ruin, with signs proclaiming "Hadet for President." Who Hadet is, I don't know.

As it turns out, I've seen for myself Trump supporters at the Sanders HQ. One was simply flying around holding a banner, getting a little close to people. The other, whom went around holding a sign over his head, ranted about "stopping this cuckery." When I brought up the subject with JP, (s)he acknowledged there was a problem, but with both sides, "I am not responsible for every troll claiming to be a Trump supporter, just as she is not responsible for every troll claiming to be for Bernie. And believe me we've had lots."

Talking more with JP, (s)he stated no dislike for the Sanders campaign, saying there was much about the platform to be liked, "I'd love to be friends and have debates.  But they have other ideas, which is fine. Saddening but fine. ... We are not griefers. We are not trolls, just political activists with a sense of humor and fun. If (the) Sanders (supporters) bought a place across from me, I'd be delighted to engage in some back and forth with them." JP stated there should be a parcel opening up in Lionheart Ahadi near her soon, inviting Macwind or some other Democrat supporter to take it.

So it seems there's no animosity among JP's pro-Trump group towards MacWind's Sanders supporters, but rather a disagreement between the two groups about what the "rules of engagement" between the two should be. It could be reasoned the former feels they're doing the latter a favor by attracting attention to both places and groups. The Democrats would beg to differ, though. With the griefers, hitting the Sanders HQ, apparently they have trouble telling the difference between the two, possibly if they should try. MarcWind's use of the term "evil" does not bode well for the opinion of she and her friends towards the Trump supporters. Part of the divide may also be an age difference, MarcWind being an "An old hippie wanna-be/pseudo geek," and JP a gamer from a younger generation. Different generations can have very different experiences politics-wise while growing up. For the 1960s, the big issue was civil rights and Vietnam. For the 1980s, it was the Cold War. And for the 1990s, it was the "little blue dress."

For now, the Sanders group seems to be trying to ignore the Trump Wall, still within sight at their headquarters in Caspoli (45/37/46). What happens next will no doubt partially depend on how the election in real life goes. While Trump will most likely get the Republican nomination, there are whispers that the "establishment" will try and find a way to stop him, even if it costs the party the election. Sanders is currently a close number two  in pledged delegates for the Democrats, but a huge majority of the unpledged delegates support his opponent. The Trump and Sanders groups could be increasingly worried less about each other, and more about the campaigns they support.

Bixyl Shuftan