Wednesday, December 28, 2016
"Oh yes," Marianne told me, "Well, the way Bay City was described by Linden Lab before it opened was 'the American urban experience, between 1940 and 1965, perhaps best typified by Chicago circa 1950 and marked by a distinct deco influence."'
There is more city feel to Bay City, from skyscrapers to other city environments. Bay City consists of 24 Residential regions, with an additional 24+ owned by Linden Lab. Each of the Residential regions has a bit more than half the land owned by Linden Lab as well, which allows for the residential parcels to have a double prim allowance.
When asked if Bay City has a council, Marianne said, "Informally. There is a community group, called the Bay City Alliance, that meets every Tuesday. I run the meetings, but everyone who attends has a voice."
Marianne joined Second Life back in early 2006 after a couple of her friends recommended it. For Bay City, back in 2008, Linden Lab was promoting it on their official blog. She was already interested in "city land" and had been eyeing parcels in the Nova Albion city area, but the mid-century theme of Bay City was right up Marianne's alley. She was one one of the early land owners in the city, winning her first Bay City parcel in the initial land auction.
I also asked her about what inspired her in her choice of avatar. Marianne said, "I started to play a kid avatar about a month after joining, in part inspired by other friends who were kid avatars. It's a way to let my more childlike self - what one might call their "inner child" or what not - out to play and have fun and be silly."
I asked her about a controversy that happened several years ago involving child avatars. Marianne said, "Well, that's a complex question. I'd say there were a couple times child avatars have been viewed as a controversy. The biggest of these was back in 2007 after Report Mainz, in Germany, did a piece on the trading of real life child pornography on Second Life's servers, as well as simulated child abuse between an adult and a child avatar. This was, essentially, resolved by Linden Lab putting restrictions on the type of content that child avatars can use, and the actions they can do."
I also asked her about her involvement in Burn2 and Second Life birthday. Marianne said that she has a "bad habit" of volunteerism. With Burn2, she ran Inner Child Camp, which led to further involvement with the event. Nowadays Marianne and her inworld brother have been called on three times to build and script "The Man" and the "Man Burn." As for the SL birthday, she first displayed back at the 3rd birthday event, and have been a part of many years. "Back around SL9B, when the Lab had pulled their direct involvement with the event, I and a coalition of other residents worked to put on our own birthday event. We have since kept at it to this day." said Marianne.
When Marianne was asked about Bay City's position, Marianne said, "Well, I think everyone wants the best and the most for their hometown, regardless, and I know I've very proud of Bay City and want to see it continue to flourish. I think we have gotten a fair amount of attention over time, but I'm always willing to see it get more!"
I asked her as well about Luskwood and Bay City, the two communities being a few sims apart. She said that she think that Luskwood and Bay City get along pretty well. Some of the folks from Luskwood have came over to Bay City for some of the big events, like the anniversary event. Bay City is pretty easy going.
Finally, I asked Marianne about her plans for the future. She answered, "As far as Bay City goes, we're in the midst of finishing up a project we've been working on for a long time, which is Enter Bay City, our Community Gateway for new SL users. Beyond that, I hope to see all of us, including myself, continue to flourish and grow."
After that, I told Marianne goodbye and wished her well. As one of Bay City's most visible residents, Marianne sets a fine example.
Monday, December 26, 2016
By Bixyl Shuftan
Computers and the Internet can bring people together in many ways, online virtual worlds even more so as they give the appearance of being together. This can often mean people learn a little more about each other's societies. But it can also mean an up close and personal view of a big problem overseas that one might be only casually aware of through the newspaper or TV news, if it makes it to the newspaper or TV news at all.
I was exploring a virtual landscape in Second Life a couple nights ago when I got a notecard that had been sent by someone on my contact list: Alejandra Jumanya, or Miss W as she is also known. I had interviewed her last year, as both the owner of a virtual goods store selling outfits for Second Life avatars, and as someone inside an increasingly impoverished and oppressed country in which the money she made online was becoming increasingly important in getting by as the economy in her country crumbled. She had hoped she and her family would make it to the United States in the future.
A year later, she has become more concerned with the short-term survival of her and her daughter.
The notecard she had passed to me, and everyone else on her contact list, read, "Hello my dears, xxxx and I are getting some food at Walmart and shipping them over to Venezuela. If you wanted to help us, you can do so by giving us a gift card to Walmart or Paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org). I feel embarrassed to ask for donations, but you know the situation here and how difficult it is to get food, also minimum wages here are like $15 a month, so it gets tough. If you feel inclined to help us, we will be very very grateful!"
Wanting to know more, I instant-messaged her. She was surprised to hear from me and at first wondered if I had taken offense at her request. I told her no and wanted to talk. We met at a location where she had a few of her goods for sale. She continued with her story, "I started to write another notecard a few weeks ago, but I never had the ... bravery to send it. I will copy some parts of the notecard ... which I never finished or sent because I was embarrassed, and my friend said it would be better to do an event. But she is busy and real-life gets in the way.
"I'm not sure if you know, but things here in Venezuela has gotten harder for us (for xxxx and I), the government is imposing us a food redistribution system, that requires us to acquire food from Socialist Party members, it's a way for the government to use food to coerce citizens into supporting it... not only you don't get in the food list if you are not pro-government, but also, those who get the bag, it's a (paid) bag of 1 kg or rice, milk, sugar and pasta every few weeks or months.
"I don't get a (paid) food bag... my neighborhood doesn't anyways, so we are currently forced to buy food through a rations system that forces us to stand on supermarket lines up to twelve hours long (although it's illegal to do food lines at night, so if the police comes, we have to run to our cars and come back to do the line). Often, after 10 or 12 hours through the lines, you find out that the supermarket in question has run out of basic goods like rice, vegetable oil, and milk.
"Controlling food supplies has become increasingly important to or government as riots become more and more common. Last week, in the heart of Caracas, hungry patrons of a local market rioted after seeing a shipment of rice enter the market and almost immediately being told the food had been redistributed to the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), the troops typically responsible for attacking peaceful anti-government protests. Chanting 'we want food,' a crowd of hundreds began to march towards the presidential palace, halted only by the GNB using tear gas and violent Chavista gangs known as 'colectivos,' attacking both protesters and journalists."
"I've heard some news reports," I told her, "though this is something new." "Not new for us," Alejandra told me, "it's just been shushed by the media. But we have been in a very bad situation with food and medicine. ... Just today, a friend of mine left her home to buy a present for her 12 month old baby. When she came back, someone had broken into her house, stole her stash of diapers, all her baby's clothes, left NOTHING. stole her clothes too, and the food she had in her fridge and pantry, you know, half a kilo of rice, some pasta, 250grms of coffee, things like that. That's how bad things are. ... You see people losing weight, faces gaunt, people who have college degrees, like doctors, engineers, accountants, making $15 a month and not being able to eat twice a day."
She had shared a few real-life pictures of her and her daughter, but after some thought she felt it might not be a good idea for them to be used, "maybe we should use (only) Second Life pictures. ... what if someone who knows me sees it, and they mug me or kidnap me for money? It might not be so safe to put my face there." It was quickly agreed to use only her Second Life identity and pictures.
I asked her where she had first gotten the idea of making her appeal. She answered, "Well, I had my group for about 7 or 8 years now, and I have thousands of loyal customers, people who know who I am, they know my store has 3 brand new group gifts per week, and they KNOW who I am.. I have always been open about my real-life and my daughter, and the situation we are facing. We are like a big family in my store group, and I thought some of the girls could or would want to help us."
I asked about others getting help outside the country. She answered, "Of course. Maybe about 80% of my friends have left the country, they are doctors or accountants here, and go to America or Europe to clean houses, work construction, do any job they can find, work at hotels cleanings, so they can send money back to their relatives." While it does bring home needed cash, unfortunately, "it tears families apart. I have a friend who left her deaf/mute daughter and granddaughter to go work in America taking care of an elderly person, so she can send money back here. Another friend who left her two kids with her mom and left to Dominican Republic, so her kids get to have food, but no mother."
"The Dominican Republic?" I asked, "Weren't they poor compared to your country a generation or two ago?" Alejandra answered, "People came to Venezuela from all over the world, because we have a great weather, the women are GORGEOUS, people are warm, you have in such a small country a desert, snow, the most amazing beaches, the plains of Venezuela, we are sitting on top of the biggest reserve oil of the world, there is no other country with more oil. Venezuela used to be a great place to live in, we often would see Europeans, Latin Americans or Americans vacationing here. Now the sad truth is that we are treated as 'the migrants' now where we go. Lately I have seen protests in Panama, asking the government to deport illegal Venezuelans, same in Dominican Republic and other countries. We are known as 'the migrants,' people are fleeing the country, even by boat."
I then asked, "Is there any kind of sign of this collapse being halted?" She answered, "You live here in a state of anxiety, you live with uneasiness, often people will say 'NOW THIS IS IT, THIS WILL BE IT!' But nothing ever happens, there will be no revocatory against the President (elections to vote if we want the president or not). We have lost the sense to be shocked. For instance, a few weeks ago some malandros (thugs) got into a bus with a mobile credit card machine and they made everyone on the bus empty their bank accounts. So, people say 'OK THIS IS IT! NOW IT'S REALLY THE LAST STRAW!' But nothing really happens. When things get really bad, the government distributes some food or do a concert and bring a couple of singers and some beers, and people forget about war, and they go back to their jobs the next day."
How secure was her connection to the outside world, Second Life and the Internet? Alejandra answered it was already occasionally sporadic due to the occasional lack of electric power, "we go without Internet sometimes a couple of days. Sometimes we have Internet but no electricity, water and gas fail too, we will be having water only twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday night. It's all chaotic here."
Although her email was in the notecard, she asked that it not be used in the article as she could get in serious trouble if the Venezuelan government traced them to her. Anyone interested in helping her could contact her inworld for the information. How could others help her out? "Walmart gift cards, or Amazon. When you buy a gift card, it gives you the gift card number and a four number code. With those two details I can add it to my account and use it. It won't work for PayPal, but it would would work for contacting me."
As many problems as she had, some which she wanted off the record, Alejandra's last message was one of well-wishes, "I want to wish you and all your readers a merry Christmas and may 2017 be a wonderful year for you and all you love."
And so we parted ways. A number of my Second Life and Facebook friends often complain about drama, or about sports. Several weeks after the US Presidential election, there are still no shortage of complaints from some about the results. It all seems so pale when talking to someone concerned about her daughter having enough to eat.
Alejandra recommended A number of New York Times articles about her country's situation, including one about the currency crisis sparked by the government's strange policies, and of it's people trying to find work outside the country to bring home a little cash.
Alejandra's store is located at Pergola (158/9/22), she has a page on Marketplace, and has her own blog at http://wetherbysfashion.blogspot.com
Monday, December 12, 2016
By Bixyl Shuftan
Real life is invariably reflected in Second Life, and politics is no exception. Over the course of the year, Trump supporters made themselves known on occasion. But the most visible were the Trump Organization led by JP Laszlo, whom drew attention with their "Trump Wall" prank on Bernie Sanders supporters and were accused of outright griefing. Eventually, Linden Lab would ban JP and several others in the group. Although Linden Lab never gave the reason for the banning, that JP later revealed himself as a member of the infamous Woodbury group was seen as confirmation by some Democrat Party supporters that their opponents were griefers. The remainder of the Trump Organization spent most of the remainder of the election season away from the limelight, sticking around at their Trump Pub.
As it turned out, the one doing the podcast was someone I had ran into before, Hatton Hunghi, the avatar of the man behind East Coast Conservative. I had interviewed and written about him in March 2012. More than four years later, he was still in business. As for the crowd, the men and women numbered a little smaller than the one at the "Safety Pin" support meeting for Democrats that I had covered last month, but the big difference between the two groups in appearance was that here, some of the group were furs.
The podcast covered several topics, such as the euthanasia of a man in the Netherlands not for a terminal disease but for chronic alcoholism, the removal of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Huckleberry Finn" from a school library due to characters using racial slurs, and the doubts of some Trump supporters that he'll succeed in "draining the swamp" of Washington DC corruption. The topic about the books taken out of the library got the most comments, "What? Are they next going to ban 'Transformers 2' because of the two robots in it they were 'African American,' and there were people demanding a boycott of that. .. Hell, my sister, a liberal lawyer, says that the most racist movie of all times is, get this, 'Blazing Saddles,' which utterly destroys racism." "The book issue was simply done for political correctness." "They are trying to remove history." "And those that got offended are ones who chose to ignore American history in which it happened or failed to understand what happened in the past." "The left does not teach in school how racist (President) Wilson was. People have to teach themselves that and the entire eugenics movement of the 1920s is avoided in schools."
Following the podcast and a short break, Hatton congratulated me for the continuing success of the Newser. He told me he had changed the schedule of his podcast as well as the name and website to "Front Porch Political Talk" (http://www.frontporchtalk.net/), as well as the location in Second Life, "I changed the name and schedule in 2015 but almost everything is the same. I've had to shift locations a few times as sims have shut down. It happens in this fluid world."
Bringing up the election, Hatton drew attention to his avatar's appearance, "There's a reason I keep my hair shaved short. So I don't pull it out. ... Me personally, I started off as a Ben Carson fan. Then I went to Cruz but only lightly. Since I'm not enmeshed with any party group," meaning he wasn't part of any GOP organization, "I had a lot of fun watching Trump twist their ... well, you know." When I asked if he expected Trump to last long after announcing his candidacy in 2015, "Not in the least. I said on the show that he was creating an oxygen rich environment and expected him to set off his own spark as well. I'm not a member of the "Never Trump" group but I'm watching his actions with a lot of caution. Larry (the older voice you heard on the call) is more supportive than I am and I think many of his generation are. If nothing else, I think his administration is going to give my show a lot to talk about over the course of his Presidency."
I asked him why he thought Trump was able to get the Republican nomination, and then win the Presidential Election. He answered, "Overall part of it is the tone and method of his campaign. Trump was the non-politician, effectively the third party candidate. Only he ran as a Republican. He doesn't talk like a politician and he doesn't act like one. And there is a subset of the electorate that craved that attitude. He also didn't speak down to the voter, he spoke down to his competition and pointed out their faults. Doing that won him favor as well.
"As far as winning the election? There are a few different answers and it depends on the state. Pennsylvania and Michigan are two states where his message resonated with the working class strongly. All that said, his campaign also did a great job of getting him more exposure and positioning a greater rural return. He played the electoral game just as well as any politician, but spoke like no other candidate.
"The other reason he won was because the Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton, regardless of the fact that she is the epitome of what at least half their base didn't want. Despite the money she spent on ads, Trump just had to cough funny and he'd get free coverage from the Media, then he could use that in the ads that his campaign ran."
I then asked, "Earlier you were saying you were watching him with caution. What you you expect from his administration?" Hatton answered, "I do expect a sea change based on his cabinet picks, but anything that requires Congress is going to be less reliable. The Affordable Care Act is definitely going to be changed drastically or removed altogether. I expect he'll follow through with his trade plans. Foreign affairs will depend on who finally makes it in as Secretary of State."
"For the most part I stand by that, though the violent riots and some of the other reactions have been over the top. As far as the 'safety clip' wearers, their issue," which he thought was immigration, "still has a lot to be figured out. I know that Trump has modulated on a few issues, and am pretty sure immigration is going to be one that he continues to adjust focus on."
When I asked him if he had anything else to say, "Only that it's important to remember that there are political issues beyond the election, beyond the news items that go above the fold and they need to be discussed just as much as Trump's latest tweet. In some cases they're more important."
A peek at the group chat revealed some variety of opinions. While some expressed full confidence in Trump, some had some reservations, "(I) don't mind admitting, I am absolutely glad Clinton will not be president, but I'm a bit nervous about the President-Elect, too." While most of the chatter was about politics, some asked about the fire in Oakland California which killed over 30 people.
Like four and eight years ago, the Republican supporters in Second Life have been active as were the Democrats whose beliefs they often clashed with. Originally with a Republican President and then a transition to a Democrat one, for eight years they were the "loyal opposition." Now once again, the Presidency is going over to a Republican. But as the President-Elect will be unlike any leader before, while some are eagerly awaiting his term with anticipation, others of the conservative side of political thought are expressing more cautious optimism, and occasionally caution. No doubt Hatton Hunghi's podcast and the Second Life Republicans will have much to talk about in the next four to eight years, and beyond.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Selador Cellardoor is a published writer, who wrote short stories that were published by Macmillian around 1971. Selador's book of short stories was called "The Eye of the Lens," and he suspects that we can still get it if we try. Selador recently had his 13th rez day. He is probably the first classical dj on Second Life, But at that time, people rarely came.
Selador does a dj performance in Classical Circle Ballroom every other Friday. "A fortnightly event is just right for me." said Selador. Selador said back in time, he wasn't properly organized. He didn't know whether it is possible to be properly organized these days. But now, he and some friends are. Seladoor made a mention of a group. It is called Classical Circle. Selador explained that the events they have are not solemn and reverent. They all love classical music. The number of people varies, but they love to chat, dance, and make terrible puns.
Selador's favorite place when it comes to playing classical music would be the Classical Circle Ballroom. He had done events at other places, but it's not something he would wish to do on a regular basis. Selador had done composing as well on an amateur basis and he had works performed locally.
The biggest thing Selador ever attempted was an hour-long setting of a poem of Mervyn Peake, the Rhyme of the Flying Bomb. It is a musical poem. When asked if Selador plans on playing classical music for a long time, he responded. "Yes, as long as I can." he said. Selador will be playing for a very long time.
Selador loves the idea of virtual worlds. Before it was created, Selador was in two previous worlds; Cybertown and Worlds Away. When asked if he's glad to be a part of Second Life, he said that he very much is glad to be a part of it.
Classical Music Ballroom's link is http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Umber/74/42/2001
Monday, December 5, 2016
by Jadyn Firehawk
In Second Life, there are quiet people who make a huge difference behind the scenes. With the season of giving upon us, I would like to take the opportunity to thank one of these quiet heroes: Sandi Glas.
In 2009, I founded the Pixel To Pixel Foundation, which helps people in SL who are on disability. It occurred to me the other day that the current location of the Pixel To Pixel Foundation headquarters has now been our home for over four years. Our old location at a sim called Artropolis went offline one day in April 2012, without any advance notice or explanation.
When we suddenly found ourselves stranded, one of our donors quickly stepped in and offered us a new home at one of her sims, at no cost to us. Sandi Glas owns Clairehaven Estates, and Clairehaven sim has now been P2P Foundation's home for over four years. We have now been at Clairehaven for longer than we had been at Artropolis.
Sandi, on the other hand, is of a quiet nature, and yet, her support -- even just on the headquarters location alone -- is both more lasting and deep. She is also selfless. She doesn't publicity-seek, in the least. Her support goes far beyond just the headquarters location. Let us just say there there are certain quiet, generous people in SL who are huge contributors to non-profit organizations, who single-handedly provide up to one-fourth of the operating expenses that a charity depends on for their success.
Sandi certainly hasn't put me up to this, and I honestly don't even know how she'd feel. She doesn't act on any "quid pro quo" factor. She is simply a person with a big heart, who cares.
It makes me wonder, how many other quiet heroes are out there in SL?
Pixel To Pixel Foundation:
Clairehaven Visitor Center:
Editor's Note: Jadyn created and runs Virtual Yosemite, and was recently interviewed by Deaflegacy.