Friday, October 25, 2013

Sha's Thoughts: Ancient Furries

By Becky Shamen

In my exploration of the sims in Second Life, there have been a few which, I was sorry to discover, do not allow furries. This reporter has as many furry friends as humans and can often be found in the form of a rabbit, fox, raccoon or bat herself. As such, I join my friends in protesting such attitudes, that prohibit anthropomorphic critters from visiting these places. One cannot hope to change attitudes, without understanding the thinking behind them. It is perfectly acceptable for groups and sim owners to make their lands accurate, as regards speech, clothing and inhabitants that fit the theme being enacted there, but they sometimes, conveniently, forget to ask key questions. Are furries entirely make believe? Did they only come into existance, begining with Mickey Mouse? Do they have no ancient history? Are there no furries in real life? It might be said that ignorance is bliss, but it is equally important to remember that, those that do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Let us join Mr. Peabody (a furry), in his wayback machine and see if we can find answers to these questions. We will be looking into some mythology, but keep in mind, myths are not invented. There is always an element of truth in them.

Sentient life

Some of you may be confused by what I have to say next. Most of you have been told of only two theories of creation: Darwin and the Christian Bible. Imagine if you will another theory. Esoteric literature reveals that most planets serve the purpose of evolving sentient human beings. Before the humans come on the scene, there is a period when the sentient life forms are reptilian. The most highly evolved beings on earth are known as Kumaras. The related word, Makara, means "Dragon." Masters of ancient wisdom are called Dragons. If you want to read more, I recommend the works of Rudolf Steiner and H.P. Blavatsky.

In Genesis, we read that humans, represented by Adam and Eve, did not have knowledge of right and wrong and self-consciousness, until they ate the fruit, offered to them by a walking, talking serpent, a dragon. Amazing! We found the first, non-human, sentient being in Judeo-Christian history, within the first few pages of the Bible. To keep it simple, we will refer to all non-human, anthropomorphic animals, as "furries," from here on.

Can we go back farther and find other furries in history? Yes, indeed. Before the Jews were united in their religion and culture, they lived in Egypt. The Egyptian pantheon had many furry gods, including; Ra, Anubis, Seth, Khnum, Horus, Thoth and Sekhmet.

The ancient Hindus also had furry gods, including Hanuman (monkey) and Ganesha (elephant). In fact, if you study your ancient history, nearly all people on earth, at one time, worshiped furry gods. They can be found in the pantheons of the Greeks, Romans, Mayans, and Aztecs as well.

Keep in mind, before Mickey and Donald made the scene, there was "The Chronicles of Narnia", with it's furry residents and their chief deity, Aslan.

The next time you hear of furries being excluded anywhere in Second Life, you can, armed with the truth, show that they should be shown respect, because they were here first.

Becky "Sha" Shamen

[credits: The art was collected from the internet, the first is based on an illustration by "Flash". The second by unknown artist]

 *Editor's Note* Perri Prinz recommended the essay "Pervasive Anthropomorphic Culture" if one wants to read about the influence of anthropomorphism on human history from ancient times to the present. Plus she has her own "Furry History Project," describing the history of anthropomorphic characters in stories, and how "Furry" as a genre came to be.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sha's Thoughts: Second Life and ESP

By Becky Shamen

In our article on DNA morphing machines, we talked of a future that allows us to imitate second life, by changing real bodies as easily as we do our avatars. Is this a two way street? Are there some real world abilities that second life needs to learn?

We explore our worlds. using our senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Any of these can, with practice, be improved. Alas, in the virtual world of Second Life, we seem to be limited to sight and sound. Are there techniques, we can employ, that will enable us to refine our senses? In the real world, there are additional, higher octaves of our five senses, which are collectively known as the sixth sense, including clairvoyance (seeing) and telepathy (hearing). We all have these abilities, but few learn to use them fully. Our extra-sensory-perceptions tell us things, about others, that we are unable to explain how we know. We use expressions like; He gives off good vibrations, Her smile lights up a room, He was green with envy, so angry I was seeing red. Those that have developed these higher senses, called "seers", explain that we all have energy fields surrounding our bodies, called auras. The etheric aura radiates information about our physical health. The colors in our astral aura reveal our moods and desires. Our thoughts create objects which float about in the aura. By looking at these "thought forms", a seer can tell what things you spend the most time thinking about. Like our basic senses, these higher senses, with practice, can also be improved.

In Second Life, most of the things that others know about us are seen, in the choice of avatars and the words we type in chat. If you have a computer that can handle Voice, you also get to hear how they sound. How is it that, with such limited data, we can, almost instantly, tell that a demon or big bad wolf is someone we would like to be friends with, or that a cute little pony might not be invited to your parties? Does the energy in our auras find it's way through the internet and into our avatars?

In real life, there are two compliments that I often receive. The first one is, I have great legs and, looking in the mirror, I have to agree. The other is, I light up a room, but that's not as easy to see. In Second Life, I buy my avatar's shape and skin in the same stores as others. I find most people I meet to be extremely friendly, helpful and generous and wonder if others, wearing the same shape and skin, get the same attention. I do have one unique feature, that might set me apart. I made a custom texture for my eyeballs, which I have never shared, so am the only one in SL that has them. The eyes are the smallest detail on the avatar and, more often than not, I am dancing on a pole. Unless people are zooming in on my profile picture, my eyes can hardly be the reason for being so popular. I begin to suspect the light, that people sense in real life, may have found it's way into the virtual world.

In Real Life, any senses beyond the standard package of five would be considered to be ESP. On the other hand, in Second life, having only sight and sound to guide us, there is a far greater range for potential ESP. This writer's opinions are but one drop in a vast ocean of players. We must leave it up to our readers to answer these questions for themselves. Does ESP exist in Second Life? Can we touch, taste or smell things there? Out of tens of thousands of players, is some small percentage of them able to see the higher realms? Do avatars have auras? Can we communicate with each other, telepathically, without using our keyboards to chat? If you have answers, contact me and I'll be all ears, especially when I'm in bunneh mode (grin and wink).

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Minecraft: Building Around Angels Villiage

Since the new Angels Village in Nydia's Minecraft servers was built, the place has taken shape, with walls going up and buildings inside the walls. Then the building began going outward, such as the SL Newser office building there. But the building didn't stop there.

Jasmine's a fan of the "My Little Pony" show, or a "pegasister" in pony fan slang. So she built this tribute, "Luna Sleeping."

How many of you have heard of "Hogzilla?" Well, he just showed up in Minecraft, or rather, this statue of him did.

Another build was this double tribute to the mob Minecrafters love to hate: The Creeper. There was this creeper statue, and a creeper temple built.

And if mobs weren't enough to scare someone at night, we started spinning yarns about what else might be out there, such as the Minecraft legend of Herobrine, the ghost miner who supposedly digs all those tunnels we find underground. Note the arched bridge and the beach picnic areas.

 The building wasn't just out from the village, but also down. Inspired by the Dwarven City in the "Lord of the Rings" Minecraft map, Valkyrie was inspired to build her own. And it was quite an impressive sight. Just ask first before digging in the mines next to the place. Dwarves aren't keen on strangers digging on their turf.

There was one other building outside the village build, a horse track, presumably in case we ever decide on a horse race. But I was waiting until daylight to take a picture, and had to go before sunrise.

 And a statuesque tribute to four of the players of Angels Village. From left to right: Jasmine (vixen with diamond minepick), Kryxia (wolfess with diamond sword), Skye (horse with diamond sword), and Phy (pony with golden carrot).

 Jasmine however wanted to build one of me. So she took a few screenshots, with my armor off, and got to work.

 Not a bad likeness ... of my 8 bit self.

So what would my statue carry? Well, others had picks and swords. So what else did I use a lot? My compass and map (ask a girl how often men will speak up and ask for directions). So Jasmine made one on the statue's hand.

The building continues around Angels' Village. There was a subway entrance made, with plans to connect it to somewhere. Then people started digging down and then out. Looks like if there's nothing in the distance to connect to, we'll dig and make something to connect it to when we surface.

That's all for now from Minecraft. Until next time, happy digging.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creative Fiction: The Morph Machine

By Becky Shamen

We have told before of the joys of changing avs. In Second Life, there is no limit on how many avs and alts you can keep in your closet. In real life we have perhaps the greatest morphing festival ever created, called Halloween. For one day per year, society puts on the blindfold and allows us to be any freakin' thing and/or gender that tickles our imagination. You could say, Halloween is a worm-hole, between SL and real life. However, in reality when we change, we are only changing a costume, like an outfit of clothing. In Second life, if you present yourself as an anthropomorphic fox, the pun telling, mild mannered reporter and editor of a major newspaper, you are in fact, body and soul, right down to your DNA, exactly THAT, and probably the guy we call chief.

If a little of SL can leak into real life, can we, safely, predict that the day will come, when science finds a way to change our real life bodies into any freakin' thing we want? Predictions are rarely 100% accurate. There's too much free will involved. We can improve accuracy by lining up a series of related, true facts and extrapolating what comes next. When we look at an arrangement of standing dominoes, lined up around the floor, we ALL know what's next. In the "real" world, I have been in the position to learn of technologies, already tested, that are decades in advance of what most people are aware of. Let us see if we can line up bits and pieces, of known technologies, to see if a machine could be made to turn you into a real life fox <(insert av here).

Electronic signatures *:-.,_,.-:*'``'*:-.,_,.-:*'``'*:-.,_,.-:*'``'*:-.,_,.-:*

I have seen a rough scematic for an electrical circuit that can detect a unique electronic signature for any sampled substance. It is one of the strangest circuits I've seen, because one of the components is a tunable glass prism. The recieving sensor of the circuit is a flat wound antenna, upon which objects to be tested are placed. By adjusting the dials, to get the strongest signal, the read out will give you the unique electronic signature of the test subject. It can even distinguish between individual people. The test subject needn't even be present, to be tested. It has been shown to be just as accurate, by substituting a photograph of the subject. Regardless of the distance, between subject and photograph, the circuit gives a real time reading on the subject. With a photograph of an astronaut, even if he were on the back side of the moon, outside of radio contact, you could monitor his life signs, faster than the speed of light. Whatever it is, that creates this electronic signature, seems to exist everywhere in the universe. It is not limited by time and space.

Manipulating DNA

DNA is a collection of protein molecules, duplicated, in every cell of your body. These clusters of molecules are so tiny, you can't see them without a microscope, yet so powerful they can gather and organize millions of their kind into a walking, talking being. The electronic signature of these proteins is what distinguishes one of your cells from one of mine, or any other creature's. In the decades since DNA was discovered, scientists have been mapping out these proteins and learning ways to manipulate them. By cutting and splicing sections, they can create whole new creatures, some useful and some monsters. Playing God, you say? Yes, but are we not asked to be one with our Father? Lately, I've seen where they are learning to manipulate DNA with sounds or frequencies. If a single cell radiates enough of a signal to allign itself with billions of others, what would happen if that cell were bombarded by a signal, the strength of billions of cells, of a different DNA mix? Would the amino acids, from which DNA is made, sympathetically attune themselves, by rearranging their place in line? I have not heard of any experiments in this direction, but if it were tested and proven, it would make possible a whole new kind of machine

The Morph Machine

Fast forward to the year 2033. Our friend, let's call him Aaron, doesn't like his lot in life. He wishes he had a better paying job and more friends that liked him. He goes to his neighborhood adult bar and sees all the cute, buxum bunnies, kitty cats and foxes, dancing on stage, being admired by all and raking in the big bucks. He knows they weren't always this way. They had gotten a morph job, overseas or in Colorado, and were now dreams come true. Aaron has read about these clinics, but they cost too much for his meager budget, so were little more than a fantasy. 

Then, one day, his old uncle passes away and leaves him some money. It's not a fortune, but it's more than enough for a morph job. Aaron goes to the local morph clinic and looks through their photo catalogue. He picks out a tall, buxom female bunny and asks, "Does it come in purple?" "Of course sir, we can fine tune it to your exact specs," comes the technician's reply. Information gathered, the tech takes Aaron to another room and shows him the machine. He inserts a photo, in a slot, turns a few knobs and pushes a few buttons, then motions Aaron to a door, leading to the morphing chamber. 

In the center of the room there is an operating table. The walls of the room are covered with parabolic dish antennas. As the tech secures Aaron on the table he explains that the changes aren't instant. Some will show up in days, others, like long ears, fur, fluffy tail and bone structure, will take longer to grow in. The one thing that will stay the same is the synaptic connections in the brain and it's memories. The tech goes to the control room and throws the switch. Aaron hears a soft hum and soon falls asleep. About an hour later, the tech wakes Aaron up and informs him that tests show the morphing was a success and that he could go home now. 

At home, Aaron goes straight to the mirror and looks at himself and sees the same old body. But not for long. Within a few days, he notices the color of his skin is changing, a soft downy fur is growing all over and his ears and breasts are sensitive. Over the next few months, he notices all the other employees are much friendlier and want to chat at the water cooler and break room. They always ask if he had picked out a new name yet. Even before the changes were complete, people began calling him Miss. 

Within nine months, the transformation was such that it was time to go to the court house and have the paperwork done, to make it official that he was now a female rabbit, named Miss Rosie Martin. She started working evenings as a dancer and soon quit her old job. Eventually, she opened her own nightclub, where all the dancers and clients called her "Mom".

And, she lived happily ever after,

Becky "Sha" Shamen

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wingless Avatars in Inworldz

By Bixyl Shuftan

With the controversy over Linden Lab's new Terms of Service directed at content creators, alternative virtual worlds to Second Life have been getting more attention. Second Life residents have been dropping over to look. But what about Second Life residents who prefer furry avatars? Going over, unless one was a content creator, he/she'd have to go tailless.

But for those visiting Inworldz, some good news. There's a package of freebie furry avatars available for anyone to pick up for free.

The package is available in the Amber sim, at the Furry Welcome Center in Amber (114, 92, 23). Turn around, and head to the tables. One has three cubes, one labeled Wingless Emoto Avatars. Click on that to receive a copy. For those interested, there's also a pony avatar and house.

For those who don't know, Wingless Emoto is an avatar designer in Second Life. Some years ago, he had a dispute with the retailer he was selling them through, and since the contract stated he couldn't sell his avatars at the time through anyone else, he made them freely available to all. Many residents have kept a copy of a package of the avatars on them to give to others wanting to try a furred avatar. Even after several years, although other avatars have been available for free, no other package that can be held to give to others has emerged. There was a package of newer free avatars available at the AnthroXtacy store recently, but with the company closing down, those avatars are not known to be available.

Like the package in Second Life, the InWorldz Wingless avatars come in a variety of anthro fox, wolf, horse, and hyena avatars in a variety of colors, red, white, blue, pink, etc. But the cube passed around in Second Life was mostly fox and wolf while the InWorldz package has a roughly equal number of the four, plus a few reindeer and werewolf avatars. Like the avatars in Second Life, the Wingless avs in InWorldz have both male and female skins (except the werewolf), and both parts for plantigrade and digigrade feet (except the werewolf and reindeer, plantigrade and digitgrade only respectively), and options for large and small hands. But the Customization and Control HUDs are not in the InWorldz Wingless avatars. A notecard included with the avatar package stated this was a first release, with another one planned later with HUDs.

Like it's Second Life counterpart, one doesn't have to wear the whole avatar. One can just wear the ears and tail (and feet) for a kitsune-style neko look. There are also a few hairpieces included.

So for those in Second Life who prefer looks with a tail, the option for furred avatars is available in Inworldz.

Inworldz Grid, Amber (114, 92, 23)

Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Minecraft Games

By Bixyl Shuftan

Following the pirate ship battle in mid-September, Nydia wanted to do more group activities with her new server set up for uploaded maps. She found a couple more she liked, and on two different occasions invited residents in the HV Community sim group and her friends in the Angels community to take part.

On the evening of September 22, she uploaded a "Lord of the Rings" map. It was meant to be seen with some additional textures uploaded, so mobs could be seen as attacking orcs, etc. And the "swiss cheese" texture seen on some builds led to a few jokes. But there was quite a bit of detail, especially in the palaces and towns.

Nydia took on the role of a dungeon master for this game, leading the party down the path after leading us to a chest with a little gear, giving us a few rules and reading the introduction. We soon had to go through a dark cave, and when mobs attacked many of us lost sight of one another. Nydia ended up having to port those behind to the group. Our journey went across fields, mountain passes, towns, underground passageways, and more. Every so often, we would come to a chest with a notecard describing the next chapter in the action, such as having to carry a message to a leader.

One of the more thrilling parts of the map was the mine area, complete with a fast-moving minecart ride, which got a few comparisons to the one from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." Unfortunetly, if anything went wrong, the character would end up off the cart, and one wrong step off the track and into the darkness. I myself ended up in a cavern under the rail, and had to find my way back, and go down the track until I finally found the cart.

Probably the scene that gave us the most headaches was having to go through a mob-filled town. The action was harrier than Nydia had expected, and she passed us chainmail armor, and then diamond. But we ended up getting split up again, and Minecraft veterans can pretty much guess what happens to players who get repeatedly assaulted by attackers. I was among them, but managed to find a two story house where I could wait for Nydia to port me over. Others weren't as fortunate.

The adventure for me lasted a few hours, and over 25 levels of experience from clobbering mobs.  Before it was finished, players began to drop out as it was getting late in the evening, and we had real-life work or college in the morning. Perhaps Nydia's next map adventure will start on a weekend afternoon.

Nydia's next map was "Race Fo Da Wool." This  would be a competition between two teams: red and blue. Each had an identical obstacle course to search for three colors of wool: blue, lime, and magneta. The base had receptacles for one of each of the wools, with trunks nearby with armor, weapons, food, and torches.

Just in front of the base was a forest area, which had some underground caves one could dig down into. Getting through the forest was a building a few stories tall. But getting through it, or up it, one had to get through a number of mob spawners. Past that was a chasm in which players had a choice: build a bridge across it, or go down and then back up, across a number of mob spawners. Getting past that was a thin bridge over a lava pit, followed by a vertical maze in which one went up and down some steep ladders. One wrong move near the top and one would plummet to their avatar's demise.

If one croaked, one had to take a waterfall down. To keep from drowning, one had to poke out just enough to breath, but not so far as to plummet. Player versus player action was allowed, either arrows or the cannons at one point on the course. But in the games I witnessed, the players concentrated on the mobs and getting through the course. For one player, the vertical maze part was the hardest, "Gaaah! I'm afraid of heights!"

We had choices to make, such as taking the time to destroy mob spawners or take chances and try to speed through. During the day, the mobs couldn't usually get far from the building. But at night, they could sneak through and attack the base. And for a newly respawned player whom was alone while the rest of the team was deep in the obstacle course, the relentless waves of zombies, skeletons and creepers could send them back to the respawn point before they could so much as grab a weapon. Players who respawned at night began to wait until daybreak to go back down.

I took part in two games, both which took well over an hour. In one match, I had found one of the wools, and was on my way back, only to find nightfall  had come, and ended up pushed off the edge by attacking mobs, and therefore loosing the wool that had taken me a while to get. My team lost that match.

Despite the frustration with getting clobbered and having to respawn repeatedly at times, everyone had fun. And the player who was afraid of heights, by the end of the game wasn't so afraid.

In the meantime, progress continues in the new Angels Village, with players spreading out again and making new builds. But this is another story.

Bixyl Shuftan