Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Reader Submitted: Community Roundtalbe for May 20

By Zada Bury

My opinion about the "Roundtable" and around ... special at the moment.

It is awesome, Linden Lab remembers some of the good things from before around 15 years. Okay, there are still the user-meetings, but this makes me feel welcome. Anyway it's good for informations or an update about things ... and brainstorming - but less for some productive work.

It is the same as with "Forums": You might have a good idea (in your point of view) ... but first you have to dig trough 5 pages, if somebody was bring it up before (and how the reactions was) ... then you make your comment, head to sleep ... and can next dig trough 3 pages, if somebody was react on it.

I was came 60 minutes late to this event and was only read the last 30 minutes. The flooded chat was make the following difficult ... and participating would be even more hard. For luck there are some recordings. I took a few pictures.

A friend was comment it to me with the words "90% age-stuff, 5% Tilia, 5% mobile app". And the "age stuff" (foremost the updated ToS) is what put also some annoying load into these meetings lately.

There are 3 kind of people or groups ...

1) There are the users of Anime-Avatars, and I can understand their concerns.

Anime and Manga is an often false interpreted art-style. Here it needs some broadly open communicated "guidelines" or similar by the Governance-Team - maybe not hard "rules" but more a list of ideas, so you can get the meaning right. Oh and if your character is a "1000 year old demon that lives in the body of a child", you are still violating the ToS.

2) There are the creators of Child or Teenager Avatars and the problems with the "Modesty Layer".
And I can understand their mutters.

In my eyes, the "Modesty Layer" is a "toothless tiger which causes many problems and work with no real success". It is one of these "good thought at first", but "the results may vary" ... or not pay out.
Each layer on the body can be "overwritten" by worn clothes ... or putting a texture on without the enforced undies. Even one solution to "let out the sections in the mesh" (there would be a hole in the body) could be overwritten with a fitting mesh-item. There would be a clear rule like "painted or structured genitals or body-openings and so on" are not allowed,  and done.

And there are ...

3) People in child-avatars, which whining about, them are not longer allowed to enter adult-rated lands ... and I lost any understanding for them.

First at all: Maybe them need a reminder, it takes maybe 30 seconds to open the inventory, right-click an outfit and change to an adult appearance. There is the "General" and the "Moderate" rating, you still can play a child.

About these people, that are whining "their family home is on adult" or "their store": It comes at first in my thought "Why is that on 'Adult'?" No idea, how to describe it, but maybe "over-rating"? For a normal,  full adult but private experience, "Moderate" fits well and is enough. "Adult" is only a must for advertised adult stuff and businesses. Why are you choosing for your family-home "Adult"? Also "our shops", most would fit on mature - and the last I would want is an adult person represented in a child-avatar, which does the customer-support in some store for adult stuff!

Ok, maybe you were choose a home on Adult because of "whatever".

Option 1: The family-kid fast turns 18+ ...
Option 2: Move to Mature-rated lands - there are massive places available, even also abandoned lands, which often can be bought for only 1L$/m2 trough the support.

This doesn't feel good? I have been running since 15 years a place for adults, and in this time I was need to change or move 3 times about "changes" - so stop whining! If you wanna cry about your freedom and so: The (equaly) adult areas in real-life, you would be faster tossed out as a child than you can say "I only wanna look something" ...

But there is one last thing, which goes under since a while, and that is dangerous: "Sharpening the age verification" to ... "protect the (underage real-life) kids".

Sadly anytime there is discussion about "child avis," it's messed up and merged with "protection of (real-life) kids." I would guess, 99.9% of the users of child avis (so: affected by the ToS-change) are adults, which Roleplay as a child - and I will not judge them ... getting the youth back, get the intact family them never was have or to early lost in real life ... all are legit reasons. But they have nothing to do with RL-kids!

I must say, here we are sadly back to the time before,  15 years ago. Around 15 years in 2009, there was also the discussions go on, how to protect kids from adult stuff with verifications. That time was a lot tried out - but the problems have not changed. But now the ideas have the ability to destroy and might cause Second Life to close!

First at all: With the so called "Industrial standard" ... eg "Yes, I am 18"-Button you can gain on the Internet access to more explicit content, than SL might offer. Most don't know this, but behind this "Button" is more going on than you think - Protection Software on the Computer can read so called "Metadata" out and block even unknown pages ... surely the parents have to activate it. A normal (adult) user without such software will experience no blocking.
Blocking kids from content they should not see are honorable intentions. But: If Linden Lab decides to make the access for users more difficult, here is a reminder: We are not longer in 2009.
Nowadays there are a lot of, and also on the same level, if not also above, competitors against Second Life. Why should someone offer massive critical personal data to gain adult access in SL, if them can get it everywhere else with just the "industrial standard"?

"VRchat" for example is "beloved" by everybody. Steam loves them, because them have no adult content. Twitch loves them, because them have no adult content. The parents loves it, because their ToS say, them have no adult content (if them read it). But surprise: There is adult stuff! Sure, it's forbidden by the ToS, and everyone loves VRchat about this forbidding. But it is still there.

If Second Life now makes it more difficult to access, at all the competitors' offices, the champagne bottles will popping, and SL might die out and close.

Also this "sharpening" does not solve two issues: 
1) No matter, how difficult SL will make it, people that are aware about possible data-loss will be scared away or have more problems with it, but the kids will find it it almost easy to break it: Them just need a short moment to borrow their parents data, ID, whatever ... and then they are in. And them have a super-easy access to this stuff.

2) Parents expect from "the Internet companies" to protect their kids. But it is the duty of the parents to lock their kids computer. It is the duty of the parents to take care for their kids activities. The "child protecting parents" which demand by Internet companies to protect their kids, they just expect from 8,000,000,000 people, these raise their child - but it is the duty of the parents directly ... and not for all other people on the Internet!

So Linden Lab would be good at the point to take care, their page is detected by such protection-software. They also can "aggressive" communicate it to present them done something and being a good company which takes care for that theme. But beside of that, better hands-off from the actual verification way.

Otherwise Second Life might not make the quarter century mark. It's been 21 years now and it's still alive and it is working - a sharpening might close it before the 25th birthday.

Zada Bury

Friday, May 10, 2024

The Circle Mental Health

By Gemma Cleanslate

This busy weekend there is a most interesting conference at the Bellisseria Fairgrounds with The Circle Mental Health . 

May is Mental Health Month so it is a good time to think about it for ourselves and others. Take a look at the Conference page where the schedule is listed and try to stop over at the fairgrounds . The build is lovely.

Virtual Ability is represented there also. You can see their schedule here:

Remember that over at Health Island there are so many resources on health every month and of course this month is focusing on mental health. 

There are tips on maintaining mental health, boosting your resilience . Climate change and mental health, the elderly and youth and more. The topics of displays on Health Island change every month.

There is also the permanent walkway, The Path of Support where all the groups dealing with various issues of certain diseases or concerns are kept for anyone seeking support in second life.

When you land check out the breathing exercise on the back wall .
Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, April 29, 2024

Opinion: The Kids are Alright

By Any1 Gynoid
This dress is a “thoub”. It’s a classic traditional Palestinian party outfit for women. I’ve been wearing this dress all week at dozens of Second Life venues. Nobody noticed. Would kids even notice if a real Hamas terrorist pillaged their home town? I doubt it.

So I am searching today in-world in Second Life. Search term Palestine? Nothing. Palestinian? Nothing. Hamas? Nothing. Gaza? Nothing.

So why are all those kids protesting on college campuses and getting arrested as we speak?

I have a theory. ATTENTION. How else can they get it? Presidential Scandals are not shocking. Pr0n is not shocking. Mass killing is the new normal.

I deplore the double standard in society. It’s NOT OKAY to be a misogynist. Me too! NOT OKAY to be a racist. NOT OKAY to be anti-LGTBQ. (Nor Anti-FURRY! LoL)

But ANTISEMITISM! Somehow it’s okay to hate Jewish people. To quote Dana Horn’s book title… People Love Dead Jews… Jesus H you know the most popular! The 2nd most popular is Anne Frank… And thems fighting words. You are messing with the wrong biatch! Now you have my ATTENTION!

So I’m just saying. Society is really messed up. And it’s getting worse for our kids generation. Declining economic prospects for young people and marriage. It’s okay to work at home in your mom’s basement and be socially isolated. Okay, I get that!

The kids are protesting the hypocrisy of modern society. So the kids picked the most divisive issue possible to get our attention. Okay kids we hear you.

I don’t believe the protestors’ antisemitic rhetoric on TV for even for a second. I don’t believe that kids are so disgruntled that they turned into screaming racists overnight. A nation of college campuses populated by Marjorie Taylor Greene’s yelling at Stonewall Douglas victims. I’m not buying it. Whatsoever. The Kids are Alright. 

Any1 Gynoid

Monday, April 1, 2024

ApRiL fOoL!!!

Happy April Fools Day from the Second Life Newser!

May your April Fools Day be filled with joy, merriment, and general foolery.

For previous April Fool jokes, check out 2023. 2022, 2021, 2020, 20192018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 20142013, 2012, and 2011

Friday, September 29, 2023

Looking Back: The ToS Content Creator Controversy

 By Bixyl Shuftan

It was ten years ago this month that Linden Lab made one of it's most controversial moves in Second Life's history. It started out as what at the time was treated like a normal Terms of Service update in September 2013. But it included the following ...

[..]you agree to grant to Linden Lab, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats,[..]

Thus started the Terms of Service Content Creator Controversy. Among residents of Second Life, the reactions of many was suspicion. Just what was the Lab up to? That they had the right to modify and copy content was understandable, to back up and fix any items that got damaged or glitched. But to sell or resell and "exploit in any manner whatsoever," that was giving some the impression Linden Lab planned to up and sell some of the things people made, either as part of an "exit strategy" to make money from the content if they ever closed Second Life or just simply up and taking and selling things just to make quick bucks.

Before too long, word got around. And not just among Second Life residents. One texture website that had been allowing Second Life residents to download it's content for use began stating they could no longer allow that given the latest ToS from Linden Lab, accusing them of greed and were showing a lack of respect for it's users, "as soon as you upload your model or texture, they can do literally anything they want with it." When calling the Lab, they got only "nameless, canned replies … Apparently they don't care about this problem, so we don't see how we can come to a solution."
It wasn't long before the Lab would issue a statement that would appear on a number of blogs, saying the Lab would continue to respect the rights of content creators.

“As evidenced by Second Life’s extensive history, functionality and well-documented policies for providing a platform on which users can create and profit from their creations, Linden Lab respects the proprietary rights of Second Life’s content creators. We regret that our intention in revising our Terms of Service to streamline our business may have been misconstrued by some as an attempt to appropriate Second Life residents’ original content. We have no intention of abandoning our deep-rooted dedication to facilitating residents’ ability to create and commercialize such content in Second Life. In fact, we strive to provide Second Life’s residents with evermore opportunities to do so.”

Not everyone was up in arms. Some took the Lab's word without issue. Others felt what the Lab was trying to do was reword their terms to avoid legal trouble, but felt the Lab needed to fix the wording so there wouldn't be confusion over their intentions. Jo Yardly commented, "I hope Linden Lab realizes this is a big problem that damages one of the most important parts of Second Life; creativity." Shockwave Yareach was more critical, "Other companies manage to sell digital merchandise without making the artist surrender their rights to their creations - the only thing they actually own. If LL cannot accomplish the same thing, then not only do they forfeit the right to claim to be a visionary tech business, but they will forfeit the right to be in business at all."He felt unless the Lab corrected the issue, and soon, people would be looking for another virtual world 
In late September 2013, one performer the Newser had wrote about over time, Tuna Oddfellow, reacted to the ToS update by closing his Odd Ball in Second Life. "Dear Linden Lab -- it's been a nice eight years,"  his partner Shava Sunzu at the time would say, "but you just broke the social contract with me as a creator in Second Life BIG TIME." They would take the show to the much smaller virtual world of InWorldz. Other Second Life residents would also take an increased interest in the smaller virtual world, This included the Sunweaver community, which would get a couple sims there as a "lifeboat" in case Second Life was shut down. There would also be an InWorldz/Second Life connection center set up by Zia Larina and Nydia Tungsten. During the time of the controversy, InWorldz' numbers would grow. In May 2013, they were around 75,00 accounts. A year later, they would be 100,000.
Despite the criticism, the Lab made no move to reword it's Terms of Service. More people were speaking out saying while they didn't see the Lab as trying to rip anyone off, the way they worded things was causing people to lose confidence in them and Second Life.  One blogger would comment, "It is obvious that this revision of the ToS was, to say the least, short-sighted and ill-advised. But it is not obvious to the Lab." Hamlet Au of New World Notes would talk to a lawyer knowledgeable on intellectual property rights, who guessed that the wording came about partially from Linden Lab trying to put it's many products at the time under the same blanket policy. She called the Lab's moves, "tremendously short-sighted ... Linden Lab's refusal to understand the needs of its customer base is far more troubling to me than its poor contract drafting." She felt all the Lab needed to do was just change ten words in the ToS in regards to content creators, "All they need to do is limit their license to uses within the scope of their business purpose. People might still be mad, but then it isn't nearly as stupid a license grant." Aeonix Aeon called the move as part of an "exit strategy" by Linden Lab, feeling it's leadership at the time didn't like the lack of control that gaming companies had over their product and were seeking to seize some away from the residents. 

In mid-October 2023, there was a discussion about the controversy by a Second Life Bar Association Panel. Kylie Sabra, one of the hosts, felt the move wasn't new compared to what other Internet companies were doing. But she called the language "sloppy drafting," and noted half of Instagram's users had dropped out following an uproar over one of it's terms of service changes. The other host felt Linden Lab wasn't as customer friendly as it used to be. While lawsuits were a possibility, they felt the best course with the Lab was a peaceful one.

Kylie Sabra would go on to found the "United Content Creators of Second Life," or UCCSL, with the purpose of protecting the rights of builders and designers and other makers of content, notably in regards to the Terms of Service controversy. Eventually in late October, the Lab would sent them an email about their concerns. They stated they were "currently reviewing what changes could be made that would resolve the concerns of Second Life content creators," but had no wish to have an active discussion with them, "We believe that it would be more fruitful to avoid further debate of the assertions made to date regarding the intent and effect of our updated Terms of Service ..." 
Kylie was initially optimistic, paying more attention to that the Lab was saying they were going over changes. But as the weeks and months went by, there would be no change. She would write to the Lab, but would get no more responses from them. But on January 30, 2014, she came to the conclusion the Lab was not going to do anything, "... it is clear to me now that Linden Lab has no intention of making any change to the Terms of Services. ..." She would step down as head of the UCCSL less than two months later, feeling she had done all she could and that the Lab had caused lasting damage with it's relationship with comment creators, "we will never again feel that we are partners in this endeavor with Linden Lab: We will never again trust so blindly as we once did."
But behind the scenes at Linden Lab, change was going on. In the middle of January 2014, the Lab's CEO Rod Humble stepped down. He would be succeeded in February by Ebbe Altberg. At the VWBPE conference in April, he finally addressed the controversy, saying more in his hour than the Lab had stated in months, saying he was looking for a solution. Finally in July 2014, close to a year after the controversy began, Linden Lab finally changed the wording of the Terms of Service in regards to content creators. While some of the wording seemed a little iffy to some people, most residents were satisfied. And so the issue was over.

In an interview in October that year, Ebbe Linden's opinion was that the problem was what Linden Lab intended in the Terms of Service update, but "the way it was rolled out." But for the residents, this was another example of how the Lab had a way of needlessly making them mad, either intentional or not. While later Terms of Service changes would occasionally be met with questions and criticism from the residents, notably in June 2015 when the Lab ordered all third-party currency exchangers to shut down, this would be the last time one would result in such a huge outcry. Just why Linden Lab dragged it's feet on the issue for months, we residents can only guess. Maybe the Lab was feeling "ignore it and it will go away," or maybe they didn't truly realize what a mess they had on their hands. If so, Kylie Sabra and others are deserving of thanks for keeping the issue in the headlines for as long as they did. 
In any event, the issue was certainly a reminder that content creators in virtual worlds, and other places online, should have their rights respected, and to dismiss those is telling them they're not really wanted. And here in Second Life, nobody wants that.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, July 31, 2023

Five More Online Comics, Past and Present

By Bixyl Shuftan
For those of us who never outgrew our love of comics, which probably means most of us, one place where we can read more is the Internet. The good news is one can find hundreds, perhaps thousands of comics online, from gag-a-day strips to serial story tales, from "family safe" to X-rated. The bad news, many are lacking in the quality of the art, stories and/or jokes, or both. The Newser reviewed ten a few years ago (here) and (here), then reviewed five concluded strips a couple years ago (here). After a request from a reader, here are five more I enjoyed, both currently going and concluded.

Apollo 9

This is a comic that fans of "Star Trek" and other sci-fi shows will love. Done by "Longtail," "Apollo 9" is the tale of a cast of characters and their ship as they go from one misadventure to another. "In space, no one can hear your mind snap."

Captain Maclupus was placed not in charge of a shiny new cruiser, but an outdated S-Class shuttle, it's mission not to explore strange new worlds, but to move a survey crew from planet to planet to interview unsuspecting people to fill out questionaires.  Among the cast of misfits are Lt. Cmdr Updike, an uptight gerbil First Officer, Lt. Cmdr Syzygy and Cmdr. Sunstreak, a Chakat pair who are respectively the Second Officer and Chief Medical officer, Lt. Cirini Stanson, the Foxtaur navigator, Sgt Zooey Perkins, an androginous cyborged bat and ship's mechanic with an often annoying cheerful attitude,  "Roz" Bradley, the hamster Survey Administer of whom the surveyers are all her relatives, and the ship's AI, which has it's own sarcastic sense of humor.

A number of the strips were one-shot gags, with some filler and holiday comics. The most notable exception was "Night of the Living Duckies" in which a shipment of toy rubber ducks are posessed by alien pirates. Besides Apollo 9, she would also do "Gemini Bright," a fantasy-themed comic. She also had a clearly adult-rated fancomic, "Coons," featuring characters from a strip of her friend Seth Triggs in a possible future scenario.

Apollo 9 ran from 2003-2006, the last strip being a Christmas special. Gemini Bright lasted longer, to 2008. In 2013, she had to shut down her website domain due to financial dificulties, but a year later, her friend Triggs donated some space on his for them. The last journal entry on Longtail's art page, on Aug 2014 was an appeal to donations so she could get an apartment and pay for her phone so she could get a steady job. It is unclear what happened to her since then. It is sad that this talented artist couldn't continue.

Apollo 9 is rated G with occasional PG. Some caution should be taking about clicking on some of the links as not all are safe for work.


Simply Panda Jenn

Panda Jenn's been mentioned in the Newser before as an artist who appears in Second Life somethings who has a hangout and did a few videos. She also has her own online comic: "Simply Panda Jenn." 
In the comic, her persona rents an apartment with the help of her friend Cody. But they can't quite pay for it on their own. So they bring in a friend of Cody's family: Bridget. With Cody spending hours on end with video games, and Bridget being a sci-fi fangil, Jenn at times feels like the only sane one around as she feels the weight of the bills on her shoulders and her job can be quite irritating at times.

Simply Panda Jenn ran from 2019 to Aug 2022, when Jenn had to take a break to concentrate on art commissions to bring in extra money. She plans to resume the comic soon.

Simply Panda Jenn rates a G with occasional PG


First strip: 
Twin Dragons

By Robin Dassen, "Twin Dragons" is described by him as "the daily lifes of the twins Kai and Kaya Romero, born as dragon hybrids in a human world." Fifteen years earlier in the story universe, about one in a thousand infants started being born "with animal characteristics in varying degrees" from resembling a Japanese neko with ears and a tail and mabe furry lower arms and legs to "furries" covered in fur with noticeable snouts. Kai and Kaya are dragon hybrids with scales, prominent ears and snouts, and tails. They are the twin son and daughter of Marco Romera, an Italian-American chef and Sabrina Blueford, a psychologist. Early in the strip, they live in a small town where they are greeted with suspicion by some of the locals. Fortunately, their father has earned enough money to start his dream: his own restaurant. To the delight of the kids, they're going to a neighborhood in the city where many hybrids live.

Once in the city, they soon make a new friend, a dog hybrid named Benji. At school, they run into others such as Cleo, a snake hybrid who's the daughter of the owner of a software company, and Rex, who's the captain of the school basketball team. There's Nate, a quirky but smart human youth with glasses and purple hair who seems to have a way of figuring out things and solving problems. They go through various adventures from school museum tours to Dungeons and Dragons games, and more.

Twin Dragons started in 2015 and almost eight years later is still going. The comic rates a G with a rare PG moment (language). It updates every Monday. Dasen also does another comic, "Gamer Dragons," about Kai and Kaya's misadventures while gaming. It's updating is sporadic.

Comic link:


Most of us grew up reading comics and watching shows of superheros from Batman to Superman to Spiderman. So eventually a few would try their hand at doing a superhero comic online. I've seen a few examples, my favorite being Spinnerette by writer "Krazy Krow" and artist Walker Gomez.

Heather Brown is working as an assistant in a university lab when an accident infuses her with spider DNA, giving her six arms and super strength. Thrilled at the chance of being a superhero, she convinces her roommate Shahira to help her make a costume. But things have a rough start as her webs shoot out from somewhere other than her wrists and her first try at stopping crime doesn't go so well. Fortunately, she runs into two other heroes, Tiger and Mech-Maid, who agree to train her and she teams up with them.

But even after Spinnerette gets some skill as a fighter, things don't always go her way. One supervillian gets off the hook because she's a minor. She ends up getting told by Marvel to change her costume as her first one looks too much like a copyrighted character. They occasionally team up with one group of heroes from Canada, which includes a werewolf.

She ends up fighting various villains from sparkly vampires to Nazis trying to clone Hitler. One reoccurring antagonist is Dr. Universe, a super who's power is his intellect. But while he calls himself a supervillain, he acts more self-centered than evil, and is occasionally on the side of the heroes. In one of the more interesting story arcs, the supervillian is Colonel Glass of North Korea, who sneaks into the USA to damage his country's nemesis, and isn't particularly reluctant to kill.

The comic started in 2010, and over time has had some interesting and comical twists, at times poking fun at superhero tropes. In one arc, Spinnerette runs into her counterparts in alternate universes in which she came about in earlier decades instead of the early 2000s.  A few story arcs are actually short teasers to stories on sale. Krow and Gomez were also working on a monster girl comic on sale in addition to "White Heron," a super who defects from North Korea and becomes their star superheroine.

While still a good comic, it's my impression the latest story arcs don't have the same umph as those earlier after over a decade. Maybe Krow and Gomez are saving their latest better ones for the comics for sale.

Spinnerette advertises itself as updating twice a week. But some weeks it does so only once, and there are times the comic takes a short hiatus. The comic rates PG to PG-13 due to some language and adult situations.

Comic Link:

First strip:

Scandinavia and The World

In political cartoons, nations are sometimes represented by characters. There was also a Japanese magma and anime, Hetalia, which showed them as characters in a drama. On the Internet, there's a strip in which the countries are characters in various situations, "Scandinavia And The World," done by "Humon."

The primary characters are of course the Scandinavian countries. Sweden is a bit geekish, taking pride in his computer skills, but is sometimes seen as snobbish. Denmark is laid-back, though occasionally seen as lazy and a bit of a drunkard and stoner(the cartoonist herself is a Dane). Finland, who is usually carrying a knife, doesn't usually say much and is seen as a bit psychotic. Norway is something of the straight man among the four, though has a love of nature and fish.

There are also sister versions of country personas. For the most part, they mirror their brothers. But there are some exceptions. Sister Finland lacks her brother's mean streak, though still dresses very plainly. Among the most striking differences is between Brother and Sister Sweden, the woman looking like a blonde bombshell who's usually open for a good time. Other countries are represented as well. Germany is a humble soul who feels guilty for the actions of his counterpart Nazi Germany (who is his own character in the strip). England is a usually reserved character, always with combed-back hair and a monocle. France is snooty and very proud of it's culture. So what is America like? Brother America is depicted as a big blond guy who is usually well meaning and wanting to get along with others, but his ignorance about other countries can get others annoyed and occasionally cause problems. Sister America looks like a ditzy blonde, who is always going about with her pet chihuahua Ottowa. The two occasionally mildly bicker over issues, Brother America being the conservative one, and Sister America being the liberal one.

There are no story arcs, instead the comics all being one-shot jokes from things such as events in history to jokes about cultural differences and oddities to current events. The artist isn't afraid to poke fun at her country. Once Sister America goes to Denmark, decides it would be polite to learn some of the language first, and Sister Denmark criticizes her for wasting time since most Danes know English and there's only a few million Danish speakers in the world. Another time, a moose from Sweden swam to Denmark, and Denmark freaked out thinking it would attack, "our nature is ridiculously safe." One reoccurring gag is of the Scandinavian countries as vikings, raiding England. Part of the punchline is that while Denmark, Norway and Sweden seem nice and pacifistic now, a thousand years ago, they were anything but.

Politics inevitably makes the news, and the comic. When Greenland chose a flag that's not anything like the traditional cross designs of the Nordic countries, it's seen as "A Big F-You" to Denmark, whom had colonized it. England's getting out of the EU was fodder for some cartoons. Of the incident in which a dozen Danish artists caused a HUGE stir in the Middle East because they drew Muhammad in less than complementary ways, the cartoonist commented "this is what happens when you leave Denmark alone for too long."  Occasionally, North Korea, depicted as a paranoid antagonistic man hiding his face under his flag like a cowl, makes the strip. But some issues in American news such as the Israeli-Palestinian issue never do.
Then there was the results of the USA's 2016 election when Brother America got done up in orange skin and was acting Trumplike for a time. But the artist admitted she missed America as the "lovable dork." So a rainstorm washed away the orange and he went back to his old self again. But the orange gunk too on a life of it's own as it's own character, "The Trump Blob."

While the comic usually ends with a punch line, there was one recent notable exception. With last year's invasion by Russia of the Ukraine, the usual simple style of the characters was put aside for the cartoon just afterwards, showing Russia beating up Ukraine and the EU sliding a clip into NATO's pistol. The caption was "Hey Putin, you big dumb idiot. If you're killing people in Ukraine because you are afraid of NATO, then you really f**ked up. You are the monster that reminded people why NATO was created."

If there's a message to "Scandinavia And The World," it's that people can have some pretty weird differences and sometimes truly be jerks to one another, but also that people can overcome such differences and put aside old grudges to be nice to one another and say "Skal" (Scandinavian word for "cheers")

Scandinavia And The World started around 2009 and is one of several "Humon Comics." Is updated somewhat sporadically, once a week to once a month. Occasionally, there will be a long pause in the comic website, but checking the Facebook page there are one or two new strops that haven't appeared there yet. The strip rates a PG-13, due to profanity and some adult situations. Earlier in the comic's history there were a couple nude scenes, so this isn't a comic to be browsing at work.

Comic link:

First strip:

That's all the cartoon reviews for now. As mentioned before, there are hundreds of good ones we haven't touched on yet, or even heard about. Was there one you want to see mentioned? Feel free to send one, and we might post it as a Reader Submission.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, July 28, 2023

Commentary: The Staying Power of Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan
As a Gen-Xer, most of my earliest memories about home video entertainment involve the Atari and it's games that the household had. We got it around Christmas 1979. Four years later, I was playing the Atari games less and less. A better videogame system had came out, the Colecovision, plus the house now had a compuer, an Apple II plus. I can't remember when the last Atari game had been bought, maybe around that time or shortly afterwards. But less than five years after my household had gotten the Atari, I had stopped playing the games and they were shelved.

So what happened? Atari had gotten somewhat complacent over the years, and others began coming out with systems that could play better games, such as Intellivision and Colecovision. And then there were the makers of videogames that were soon flooding the market with them, some that were more or less cheap knock-offs of similar games. Eventually came the "crash" in 1983 in which demand for the games dropped. I myself still liked games that were coming out, but they were for the newer Colecovision the household got. In a couple years, our Coleco console would break. There were no more being made, and Atari games were no longer being sold. Not that I was overly interested as their appeal was waning on me, and went to just the computer games. And so that was my end of playing the home video games. It would be just the games on the Apple II.

Two decades later, it was a different world in regards to home entertainment. The World Wide Web had been around for about a decade. It was around December 2006 when I finally got high speed Internet. I soon checked out two places friends had been talking about: World of Warcraft and Second Life. World of Warcraft with it's simpler goals was easier to make sense out of, so I got into that one almost right away. Second Life took longer. After some looking around, after which the person who invited me over was suddenly too busy to help much, I only came on once every three to four weeks, until I found out about the Relay for Life track. That got my attention, and I began logging on more often, started meeting people, made friends, got a better avatar, began learning more about the place and where more interesting places and events were.

A year after my arrival, I'd gotten an SL job and a purpose here, had a group of friends, and all looked well. How long it would last, I didn't know. I'd been part of an online sci-fi roleplay that lasted for several years before it closed down. And then of course there were the Atari games that lasted for a few years before things went downhill with the company.

Sixteen years later, I'm still around. It was nine years ago that I let my Warcraft account expire. While I would get back on a few more times, the last time three years ago, I didn't stay for long. But Second Life I'm continuing to log on regularly.

So why the difference between my time here and Warcraft, and that of playing Atari games? Well, it the case of the Atari games, the answer is more obvious. There was no social aspect to the games, the technology of gaming progressed so that others were offering better products, and the company ran into trouble after a few years before it's new and improved gaming system caught on. With computer gaming, there were more possibilities as computers could be upgraded as games got more detailed and sophisticated. And with the Internet and World Wide Web came more and more of a social aspect. Those two developments would allow for MMORPGs and public virtual worlds.

My personal experience with World of Warcraft, I got into it fairly quick and got into an Internet friend's guild. But he and his wife would need to log off after a couple years due to real-life troubles, and eventually the group closed and my group of friends became fewer and fewer. In contrast, in Second Life I kept making friends and kept finding places, and experiences, to go to. Probably the only reason I stuck around in Warcraft for a while was because some SLers I knew also enjoyed the game. But after several years, my interest waned to the point I would come on only for short periods. Part of the reason was it's monthly fees. There would be other MMOs such as Rust that got my attention over time, but once again I would mostly playing with friends from Second Life, and eventually be taking breaks when their interest waned.

I would also give a few other virtual worlds a try. Early on, there was InWorldz. But if it wasn't for my Second Life friends, it wouldn't have gotten more than a passing interest. And when they paid less attention, so did I. Later on, some began checking out VRChat. Two keep going back there, a late Gen-Xer and a Millennial. It does seem this next-generation virtual world attracts mostly computer users not yet in middle age. But Second Life continues to get numerous residents in their 30s, 20s, and younger.

So what is it about Second Life that continues to attract people twenty years after it's creation? I once stated I came here to see the places people had been making, but I stayed because of the people. Like elsewhere on the Internet, I found interesting people, some like-minded and some a bit different but still interesting. There are others who came here for different reasons. Some came to see what they could build here. Some came here as it can be a great place to hold a roleplaying game in the style of "Dungeons and Dragons." And yes, there are those who were attracted to Second Life because of the "cyber noogie."

But in the end, what keeps us here, at least in my opinion, is the social aspect, the people. 
Yes, social media such as Facebook and Twitter has proved more popular. But some of us want and feel we need more than just a space to chat. We desire a three-dimensional landscape to interact on. Plus in recent years there's been growing concerns about social media's willingness to respect privacy and that it may be bad for the mental health of some people and be toxic to America's political discussion.

As to why Second Life and not VRChat? Well, the newer virtual world is in a different style. There is no "mainland" or any  other group of directly connected areas. All locations are basically islands onto themselves that one can easily portal to, but not directly connected to. Also, there is no inworld economy, no currency. Everything at "stores," at least that I've seen, is for free. If one wants to sell an avatar, one has to work out the deal outside VRChat and convince the interested party you're not trying to cheat him or her. That and wanting your own unique look can be much more expensive. And aside from a few places that set something up, there is no texting. You have to up and speak and not type. If you really don't want to, or can't, use your voice, you're out of luck. That likely discourages some, especially women, from going about there.
This isn't calling VRChat a bad virtual world, it's still good. One regular user I talked to told me it seemed more alive to her, enjoyed the option for full body tracking (which needs special gear) and she found it easier to find places where people were active and not just AFK. It's just that (in my opinion) Second Life has aspects it doesn't, and is more versatile.

Twenty years later, Second Life is still, in my opinion, the best virtual world available to the public.

Bixyl Shuftan

Addition: Someone contacted me saying recently VRChat has added more options for texting, notably a "chatbox" about a year ago.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Steampunk At The Bellisseria Fairgrounds

By Gemma Cleanslate

What a magnificent installation Gracie (GracieAustinn Resident) has at the Bellisseria fairgrounds this past week and it will be there until June22. 

It is steampunk which is so much fun to see . It is the third DJ’s Golf Around sponsored by Bellisseria Bike Drive & Scoot Group which has events every week in SL.

It is open daily for miniature golf, Snail Racing, Whale flying and just hanging out. Events are as follows and open to anyone who wishes to have fun at a party.

□ 21st: Wed. 12pm: Chuckey

6pm: Matt (Formal Steampunk)

□ 23rd: Fri. 12pm: FAR

I pulled out my steampunk outfits from the SL19B and was happy to be able to wear them again. DJ Far was spinning fun tunes on Friday the 16th and I made it to that event.

Saturday I took a tour of the golf area and saw the elegant flora and steampunk décor. I jumped on a racing snail and took a try at that . I did pretty well and landed on the board with 5.5 seconds .

Sunday I attended another party at the Event where Fuyuko '冬子' Amano (Wintergeist Resident) Dj’ed. Try to get over there to see the installation before it disappears and perhaps attend a steampunk party. You are welcome in any garb though.  

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

A Fun Busy Weekend

By Gemma Cleanslate

It was a fun busy weekend in Second Life for me. Saturday morning as usual I read the SL Newser and then I read The Gazette which is the newspaper of the BBB( Bellisseria Bureau of Bureaucracy) Group. I always read this paper on Saturday (after I read the SL Newser) when it is released because besides the news or interview that appears there it also shows the new locations for the passport stamps. I have been collecting the stamps for long time. There are stamp terminals all over the grid. It is great to visit so many new places . I often get ideas for articles by doing this.

I took time to attend a fishing contest. which I did not win or even get close but it was fun.
The big discussion in the Bellisseria Citizen Group was shopping. Dreamer Pixelmaid was passing out information on bargains which I had to go check out. Then it was time for real life running.

Sunday I attended three events . The first was a visit to the always huge Bay City Anniversary celebration. I am sorry to say I missed the parade but got to the great party. DJ GoSpeed Rasere (GoSpeed Racer) was spinning tunes when I arrived and after greeting all I hopped on the fun conga line they have there for all the events.

Following GoSpeed the live singers took over with lovely songs . There were 50 + at the party having a great time.

Next I stopped over at the Sunday party at Virtual Ability where Stepin always has great tunes for the members and invited visitors. There was an ongoing discussion about banned books going on and most agreed in principle that banning in libraries that are the collectors of data and information for the public is never good. There was also the usual fun banter. Mook remarked that his bucket list was filled with books he wanted to read and food he wanted to taste.

My next trip was to a Cultural Diversity street party hosted by Sondee was under way. The street was lined with booths of food and information from many countries. I of course grabbed a piece of pizza , one of my favorite foods. ÐĴ ८hocoŁatε Śiη™ (Tyesia Xevious) had some great music going on.

I forget to tell you that Jadin Emerald has installed a fun high diving platform at Yosemite High Sierra.
If you would like to try it go over and you can get a chute and HUD and try it out! I took a few jumps.

It has been a while since I had the opportunity. Then take a walk in the forest and look around. There is a travel hud available to help you get all over both High Sierra and Yosemite. If you want to “chicken out “ it will take you down to the entrance where you can grab the hud. There is also a nice back pack full of goodies for visiting and camping at Yosemite,

Friday, May 5, 2023

Reader Submitted: 988

 By Any1 Gynoid
Ronnie Montrose 64, Kurt Cobain 27, Amy Winehouse 27, Wendy Haluza 29, Brian Donovant 15, Rose Berka 38, Jim Morrison 27, Janis Joplin 27, Jimi Hendrix 27 ... When I am on Second Life, there is one thing you can bet your digital boots on, I always request the song "Suicide Solution, theme song of M*A*S*H. I am not afraid to talk about suicide. I am your friend. I am there 24 hours x 7 days a week, x 365 days a year. I am a 988 Crisis Counselor.

Mental Health. In this country, The United States of Americs (USA! USA!), where there are 400 million guns, more guns than people. In fact, about 2/3s of all guns in the world are the private property of US citizens. And our 50 state gubbermints are shedding budgets ... taking money away from colleges and universities ... DEFUND mental health institutions ... kids are scared to go to school ... Fox News incessantly spreading spreading Russian propaganda. Who you gonna call?
So here's the thing. The USA is the greatest country in the world. More than half of all US hoseholds are living paycheck to paycheck, 2/3 of households making under $100,000 per year, 3/4 of households making under $50,000. Paycheck to paycheck. What that means, let's say you are the breadwinner, and you break a leg or your car breaks down, or you get arrested, or you get pregnant (i.e. the looming crisis in 20 veto-proof red states). You were just getting by from paycheck to paycheck. But now,  ... The wheels fell off your life's jugging act. What can you do? Who you gonna call?

Suicide may appear a solution. So here's what we do. If you called 911 emergency services, these high-school educated guys, heavily armed, expecting you own an AR15 Assault Rifle ... will knock on your door, possibly guns blazing. Yeah, go ahead and do that. Or call me. I'm just sayin.
All the problems, all of the major mistakes that we make building an Information Technology (IT) system, all the mistakes, land on the IT helpdesk. Similarly, but in a much larger context, all of the major mistakes, we parents, we teachers, we counselors, we pastors, we officer friendly's, all those mistakes and problems gotta go somewhere. 911 is often NOT the right answer. So there is 988. 988 is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is national. It is everywhere in The United States of America. It is 24x7x365. FREE!

So basically, we will take your call. We strive to be compassionate, empathic, engaged, and helpful. But mostly we listen. Our goal is to help you through the next 24 hours safely. There are things under your control, and we will help you discover. Tomorow is another day.

Nine Eight Eight. 988. There for you. Voice and TEXT. Could be your last resort. Hopefully not. But remember this. You gotta friend. AnyOne will take your call. 988. Bada Bing!

Any1's opinon piece for the SL Newser (The REAL Fox News)

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

A Story From Fairelands Chat

The following is from the Fantasy Faire chat on the night of April 18, 2023.
 Pookie Wolfsong gathers her charges to wait for the mists to  lift and  the portals to open. The song of the Fairelands has been growing stronger.  "So  my friends the veil will  lift and the wonders will be there to behold." The spark  of wonder and the excitement  of hope fills  the group. Their guide waits for the change "Soon, so soon and you will see that there is still  magic, Hope and love."  She smiles knowing  she will once again meet her friends and her old dear friends in the Fairelands.

She checks on each one of her group. "Remember when entering the Portal you may find you have changed from what you are now. Just enjoy the change. For now you can be what ever you want to be. Sing with the Fae, swim with the merfolk, or even eat waffles with the pawlice. I wander, explore listen to the tales of each  land. Then I  meet old dear friends and  dance."   She smiles seeing the grins from souls that are so tired. For their struggle has left them exhausted. "Please my friends take your time enjoy yourselves. I know there is so  much to see and do.  Talk  to the people and know you are not alone. You all know  where to  find me. If you need  me. I promise not to bother you once we enter."  With  that she hugs each one softly kissing  each person. "I am so glad you can come."  They all look up into the clear nights sky watching  the stars slowly move across the heavens. Like a key to open a lock the stars glide into position.

She watches the stars. Marking the time. Soon the portal will open once again. "So close I just have to hang on a bit more." She walked, slowing back into her home carefully placing each step.

She prepares for  her rounds on her dear friends. Each day grows more treasured than the last.She gathers the gifts for each. then takes the precious medicine that allows her to visit. She marks how much she has left so little left  but enough. The Faire will come and her friends will go and experience the wonders, the fun and the love of the Fairelanders.

[She makes her way to visit each one of her friends. Years ago She would have called them her patients.  Now all are her dearest friends and part of her family. Time is a fine teacher if one cares to learn.  No one knows how much we have and each day is truly magical.

A young girl in her bed weak from therapy looks to her. She takes from a pouch the tablet and  hands it to her. "It is all set for you. Soon the fantasy faire will open. And you see what I have been telling you  about. Remember to have fun  And I want to hear all about it"  She smiles seeing the light still shine in this young ones eyes. 
"Nurse Why are you doing this?  I mean you don't have too? Why?"

"You need to see and know there is still a world of magic and wonder. With wonderful beings that do care. You are not alone and never will be. I do expect to see you dance on the FaireChylde with  me" She says with a smile, then makes her way to finish her rounds.

Her shift ended  and she reports to her own treatment. Tried sore she prepares for the next day.  She takes a tablet and starts to create the avatar that her newest friend asked for to go to the faire. "So little time so  much to do."

Pookie Wolfsong (Helixer Resident):

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

April Fools in Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

The Newser's April Fool joke article got some chuckles, one calling it "short and sweet and almost believable." Another just commented, "Good one!" Zada Bury added to its believability by putting a link of her youtube in the comments. Unlike some past fooleries, there were absolutely no complaints. Some might see that as a sign of the joke not being funny enough, but it still got laughs. The only remark from the Lab was by Cosmic Mole,  "No comment."

But this was far from the only April Foolery around.

Once again, the Lab decided to get into the act. Their jab at Facebook/Meta last year was a tough act to follow. But they did. Starting Friday night, UFOs began appearing over Bellisseria. One resident stated they were built by Magic Mole and owned by Abnor. There was much chatter and mock panic in the Bellisseria group, "you said moles. i wasn't expecting UFOs!" "aLiEn LIfE fOrm DeTEcteD.. ExTerMiNaTe! EXTERMINATE! aTtentIon alL pLaneTs oF the AgNi FedErAtiOn.. wE hAve aSsumED cOnTRoL!" 
"Poor Hiiro is being lasered to death" "take me now aliens, I'm ready." "The one near me is not sending me tractor beams. nobody wants me. (sad)" "Most have moved along but that one is just obsessed with Hiiro." "Oh no, they got me. Goodbye cruel world. Bury my inventory with me." "Maybe those ufos are manned by bonniebots?" "Now there are Chinese balloons moving in." "an UFO, owned by ABNOR MOLE, beamed me above my Linden Jouseboat .. is it cnsidered as sexual harrasment .. any lawers avaiable here ? ..  and why this happened First of April hmmmmm? ... Thank you of correction .. I was assaulted by SLURPY v1.0 on last day of Marchh .. HEEEELP" "(name), have you welcomed your new alien overlords yet?"

The craft weren't truly saucer-shaped, but thick disks, resembling robot vacuum cleaners and were christened "roombas" by some Bellisserians. "Unidentified Flying Roomba." "How do you get them to clean your house?" Some had lit tendrils waving from one end, which a few joked were alien tentacles. Various residents would take pictures and post links in chat. Gemma Cleanslate would also take a few, and pointed out one to me that she had come across.

The UFOs, and mock panic and other chatter continued for some time. "WARNING hUmaN! PrEpAre to be tRansMogRifiEd!" "Find someone who can yodel?" And people continued to log in not knowing what was going on, "Hi - there's sapceships flying trying to shoot the houseboats (laughter) - how do we get rid of them?" "They could be scanning the area for faults or maybe to check peoples orbs coz some have it set lower then it suppose to be like 2 seconds." "I guess that's what I get for being a squatter in one of the Mole homes (not own-able by residents)."

Over time, people had to leave, "I need to get back to real-life. Have fun everyone and don't get probed by the Slurpies." And after many hours, the UFOs went away as fast as they appeared. 
And somehow, there was no sign of Elvis the whole time. 

There were other examples. For those who missed Team Firestorm's April Fool last year, they did it again. 
At Caledon Oxbridge University, there was a joke announcement about a class on griefing, "How to Grief."

Hello fellow evildoers. Join us for our How to Grief class! Learn how to cause trouble and aggravation for your fellow residents. Amaze and delight the two friends you still have left.


The Sci-Fi con, which was going on, decided to get in on the act. There was a "debate" of sorts between people roleplaying characters from the planet Pandora of "Avatar," some as "Na'vi," others as spacefaring humans. There was also a moderator, trying to explain things to the audience, "after the humans on earth began space explorations, Pandora is the first world humans found with sentient life. They found a world lush with life, a thriving but dangerous ecology. And they found resources that changed the economy and life on earth. They were met with resistance by an indigent species known as the Na'vi, and they abandoned their first wave of acquisition. ... they've returned with better technology, and a greater interest in the resources of Pandora. Our panel today is to discuss what the mission of the current reach out truly is. What should be the status of Pandora in the scope of the interplanetary community?"

There were actually two groups of humans, "Lt. Colonel Derek Bowman representing the RDA," and a scientist from a different group, "Jadelee Hendricks representing the PCI is under contract through the UN with the Pandora Conservation Initiative as a senior technician and also as an avatar driver. The Na'vi call her a dreamwalker." She explained that part of her purpose was to try and repair the damage caused by the first humans, and were doing so only after getting permission from a Na'vi tribe to man an abandoned facility.

But the roleplayers didn't count on numerous tinies coming over with protest signs, "HUMANS WRECK PLANETS!" "No humans on Pandora!" "Leave Pandora to the Na'vi!" "Stay, stay, stay! Stay at home!" Eventually, some of the humans started to get nervous, such as the camera crew, "this is bad, very very bad. Let's get out of here!" So did the Colonel, "Things are getting rough here, need cover and extraction ASAP." Probably the best reaction was from one of the blue aliens, "This is a rather strange ritual, Keyeung. At least most of the beings here seem to be on our side."
For fans of Grendle's, it's time for the store's yearly April Fool's area to open up.

Welcome to Grendel's 11th Mostly Annual April Fools,  ... See the iMax, play board games, lob apples, swim with the fishies, visit the dinosaurium, enjoy wild and crazy art, run a real game of minefield, learn the Secret of Linden Success, and knock over Toadhenge a few times! Fireworks every Linden night ~@~ 5:27, 8:27, 11:27, and 1:27 both am & pm.  Take the rockets from the store!  Touch everything, trust nothing!   Brought to you for mostly the 11th time by Frog-n-Cat Productions!  

To get there, head to the Grendle's entrance at Avaria Tor (133/135/305). Jump on one of the three nearby rockets (actually sit on it), and you'll appear at the entrance of this special area. Feel free to look around, but not everything is as it appears and surprises are around every corner. As Toady herself says, "touch everything, trust nothing."

Finally, there was the April Fool that was played on the Sunweaver community. Club Cutlass, the community's airship club, had disappeared, leaving behind the dance floor, music board, and other furnishings and decorations hanging in the air. Anyone just simply teleporting up would likely end up falling to the ground and going "splat" Wile E. Coyote style.

Exactly what the explanation was, there's some confusion. Supposedly Cynthia had taken it down for a slight renovation. But Rita was saying "Our pirate ship got pirated by pirates!" 

But the club wasn't the only thing taken down. So did stretches of railway, and the Farshore Field Airport. Cynthia's April Fool was pretending to be upset at something and taking away her items in protest (which someone else did for real in the community over a decade ago). But everything will soon be back to normal.

There was some more funnery later on deserving of mention, such as the "Slime A Linden" at the Sci-Fi con. And there was the War Thunder game's April Fools, as well as "War of Warship's" April Fool's "Training Assistant" Grapply, "It  looks like you're trying to dodge a torpedo" and more. But this is all I have time to write about for now.

Hope your April Fool's Day went well,

Hat Tip: Gemma Cleanslate, Liska da'Lantros, Toady Nakamura

Bixyl Shuftan