Author: Patricia de Chenier

Meet our Artists

Meet our Artists

A great exhibition, and well worth your time.

Filling The Cauldron

Filling the Cauldron features eight art displays in the main event space, located next to the Welcome Area. The art of display comes from a mix of Invited and Guest Artists, and has a focus on Elicio Ember’s creations.

Our Invited Artists are Alisaundra Andel, the official Fantasy Faire photographer; Sonya Marmenuk, official Fantasy Faire webmistress and talented photographer and Caitlin Tobias, official fantasy faire blogger and photographer. Our Guest Artists are Ursula Floresby, Deoridhe Quandry and John Brianna, all of whom responded to our invitation to artists to display their art at Filling the Cauldron, and they are joined by Vecchio Barbosa and myself.

Discover more about our artists below – some of whom provide a look at their work in their own words.

Alisaundra Andel

Alisaundra Andel

“About me? Hmm, this is never easy for me to do.  I’ve been in SL since 2008; I’m a photographer…

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Avatars Against Trump, Linden Labs, and the Travel Ban

It shouldn’t be a large surprise to anyone reading this blog (both of you, in all likelihood) that I am a libertarian on most issues.  That means I am a “social liberal” (won’t rush out and cut my throat for loving differently, nor do I expect others to do so), mostly, while also for a strong (but intelligently-funded and deployed) military defense and for government spending within its means.

Nor am I an admirer of Donald Trump.  I just despised the culture of criminal government Hillary Clinton was part and parcel of under Barack Obama and would have perpetuated had she been elected President.  And that’s the last you’ll hear from me on that.

I’ve heard everyone out I intend to on how bad Trump is.  Feel free to tell me about specific mistakes you think Trump’s made, but spare me the rest.  I can reconstruct most of it from my chat logs, believe me.

Linden Labs actually kept their remarks on the travel ban within those strictures, mostly. I’m skeptical, to say the least, about a nationality-based ban, but Jimmy Carter imposed a similar ban against immigration from Iran.  I think both bans are morally and legally defective as anything but a temporary measure until more effective vetting procedures than those now in place can be instituted.  If Green Cards are being confiscated from those who have them, that’s not good, either (that’s an example of an ex post facto governmental action, in my opinion).

Avatars Against Trump is a different story, altogether.  Demonizing anyone before he’s actually had an entire month to do anything is wrong.  It’s unlikely to change the person’s behavior and no guarantee that you or your favorite politician’s any better.

One of my favorite Second Life bloggers, unfortunately, is promoting Avatars Against Trump.  I’ve already explained my opposition to parts of the travel ban.  I play in Second Life, however, not to engage politically.  I have good friends in SL who are from places governed by at least one or two people I don’t like.  I don’t bring that up to them, because it doesn’t matter to our Second Lives.

I reluctantly have come to the opinion that Avatars Against Trump is an attempt to hijack MMORPGs in general for a political end I don’t agree with – the demonization of someone who was lawfully elected President of the United States of America.  Its proximate goal appears to be to get what they could not get through legal means – Trump not in the White House.

Sorry, folks, you had your chance last November – and blew it. Try to use my Second Life to make your point, you get muted.  For those of you reading this who are not American citizens, you don’t get a say in my country’s government.  Do me the same courtesy I do you, and withhold comment on a topic you know less about than I do.

Forgotten places of SL 2 The Gulf

Second Life has an active aviation community, and the Second Life Airmanship blog is a good resource for information with no drama or self-referential filler. Just info about cool planes, how to fly in SL, and nice places to fly TO.

Second life Airmenship

It has been a long weekend, you may be sitting around bored wondering what to do sick of being slapped by sim crossings or trying to pretend the latest Drama in the sailing community has not happened. (More on this later this week)  How about venting your frustrations with some war games? And where better to enjoy a a few war games better than the Gulf?  Even if you are not into war games This is an amazing area with plenty to see ant to visit and explore Many aviators in SL forget this place exists or just avoid it but you are missing out. so Lets all out on our combat boots and helmets and visit the gulf.

WW2 central

First and foremost the gulf is a World War 2 combat zone so you better come prepared. Of you don’t have combat gear your first stop should be WW2…

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High Fidelity, Sansar, and How Little They Have To Do with Second Lifers.

Manthorpe makes the salient point that Second Life’s player population has dropped from its plateau a few years ago of about a million to half that more recently. That’s very relevant, but he then goes on with what seems to me to be the non sequitur that a more hardware-intensive VR platform will attract more players. No evidence for that being true.

He makes another, more salient point about Second Life, Ebbe Altberg and Project Sansar – “The game still has a sizeable community and a GDP of “half a billion”. ” That estimate of the cash flow through Second Life is conservative; most people who’ve been in Second Life for more than a few years have at least USD100 a year invested in it, between cash payments of USD9.95/month for Premium Member status, much higher payments for tier (essentially ‘ground rent’ or ‘property tax’ people who ‘own’ Second Life land must pay), and in-world purchases of virtual goods and services from other Second Lifers.

Yet, as Manthorpe notes, “Using the proceeds from this “money-generating machine”, Altberg has invested heavily, building the team up to 75, more than a third of Linden Lab’s staff. The moment he committed completely to VR was when he heard that Facebook had bought Oculus. “As soon as that sold, we were just like, Sansar is going to be fricking awesome for VR. We knew that people were going to want to create content in massive quantities – right now it’s too damned difficult.”

When were we, the customers, ever asked if we were okay with this?  Tier’s hard to pay, still, and yet we pay it to make content we and other players can use.  Sansar’s yet to make a dime for Linden Labs (unless, as is rumored, Facebook’s subsidizing Project Sansar and the equivalent project in Utherverse to make Oculus Rift-friendly content).  Second Life’s the only real money-maker in Linden Labs, but no one there’s asked us if we’re happy to pay the high tiers we do and our Premium Memberships, only to have resources shifted to things that don’t benefit us.

High Fidelity, by comparison, has to consider its users – because each one is helping host the system by downloading the world’s “Sandbox” software, then putting his or her computer online as a file server for High Fidelity.

Manthorpe apparently doesn’t care for High Fidelity’s collaborative anarchy… “But openness comes at a price. High Fidelity’s meeting is being held on the Playa, a Burning Man homage littered with shipping containers and neon signs, including one reading “Rosedale”. It is very artful, but amid the intentional mess are signs of genuine disarray. One user is running a script that summons ghosts to float across the sand. Another has added a herd of cows to the plains. Like Second Life before it, High Fidelity is distinctly strange.”

Your point is, Mr. Manthorpe?  “Strange” is what most of us in Second Life show up for. We like the fact that almost no matter our inner desires and intellectual gifts, we can – and do – find kindred spirits inworld.  I can let my inner physician come out, and find people who enjoy playing the role of my patients – even in fantastic settings as my current RP home, Araxes.

Unfortunately, as Manthorpe reveals to us, this wasn’t good enough for Mr. Rosedale. “When Second Life stopped growing, Rosedale could see from the user analytics what the people who stayed had in common. “There was something about them,” he says. “The one thing they all had was a huge amount of time to invest in it.” Second Life was a retreat for escapists, an outlet for pent-up creativity – a place, as Rosedale once put it, for “smart people in rural areas, the disabled, people looking for companionship”. But for less motivated visitors with limited time, it was hard, confusing and alienating.”

Philip Rosedale’s comments on us remnant half a million Second Lifers are valid to a point – many of us indulge in escape from more stressful First Lives, from physical challenges, social isolation and loneliness, some of us come as well to create – to indulge our creative impulses, and create worlds that never were and may not ever be.

Rosedale says those things as though they were something wrong.

He might have realized just what he had when he ran Second Life – a virtual world that, even when disposable incomes contracted sharply, half a million people came, spent money, bought Linden Homes and even more expensive tiered land to make a new world.

Why didn’t SL advertise more aggressively to the millions worldwide who fit the user analytic profiles he’d identified, and actively make it more accessible to them, and shift Second Life’s user interface closer to Utherverse’s easier one?

Mr. Altberg (AKA “Ebbe Linden”) also doesn’t “get” those of us who pay his salary, or he wouldn’t have told Manthorpe “You will have the freedom people, the anarchists, whoever, who will say I want 100 per cent control and it should be open,” he says. “Then you will have the vast majority of users that obviously don’t give a shit – because how many billions of them are on Facebook every day?”

Actually Second Life’s almost entirely open-source nature’s great.  It lets me select the viewer that most suits me from a wide variety which wouldn’t exist but for SL’s open source nature.  I went with Phoenix Viewer because SL Viewer’s interface wasn’t friendly, and stayed with that team all through the roll-out of Firestorm (has it really been years?).

Rosedale and Altberg seem to think they can find whole different kinds of players as willing to spend the money we now do inworld, and even more on the bigger, faster computers we’ll need to even do that.

According to Altberg, “Most people are just consumers of experiences as opposed to creators,” he says. “It’s the same in VR as it is in any other medium, especially when you come to creating quality content.” (the boldfacing is mine).

Excuse me?  What Second Life does he live in?  Almost everyone I know in SL knows the rudiments of building, because it’s either that or get a designer to adapt a prim or build you own to your exact needs (and it’s not always free). Let’s say you own a vehicle – boat, car, airplane or spacecraft – and your avatar’s not as tall as most SLers’ is – you really need to reach the controls from your seat, and being able to edit prims by yourself is the best way to do that.

Most fashionistas would be lost without being able to resize and edit prims on their avatars’ costumes.  I’ve helped friends in SL realize how not to have “one size fits all” avatars by using the “Edit Shape” dialog, a very powerful part of SL I hope Project Sansar retains.  Editing your avatar’s a massively liberating feeling -you can make your avatar what you wish – more “body positive” on your terms.  When my avatar got a wider mouth, larger nose, and more matronly curves closer to my own looks, I was surprised to find that what I intended as assertion of my own body image was attractive to others.

Mr. Altberg runs a company which bills itself “The Largest-Ever 3D Virtual World Created By Users”, but he says “Most people are just consumers of experiences as opposed to creators” and in doing so dismisses the people responsible for his company’s advertising tagline not being delirious fiction.

Any experienced Second Lifer wouldn’t discount the extent to which even a player who only owns her avatar and its attachments creates content for everyone she meets in Second Life.

I’d rant on, but you’re probably as tired of reading me do it as I am of contemplating the disconnect from reality that the two big shapers of commercial virtual reality have.

By publicly dismissing us, but taking our money, Second Life and Linden Labs may get a chance to find out just how many SL players will be inclined or able to move to Sansar, instead of (when Altberg kills SL by shifting more and more resources to Sansar) just going to one of the Open Sim grids. And High Fidelity may have real trouble going from its present beta-tester community of 100 to the 500,000 people in Second Life if the price of admission’s a computer that can act as a file server for the High Fidelity community.

SL and its population don’t need VR goggles. The money poured into Project Sansar could simply be placed into price reductions on land tier in the Second Life which brings in the money, so that we who made Second Life home over the years could keep that world full of wonder.  What’s wrong with a world of wonder, anyway?

Much Ado About Sansar.

Orcaflotta has some very to-the-point criticisms of Project Sansar.

Thar She Blows!

And again our glorious leader Ebbe produced a lot of hot air, and after reading this article we’re still as ignorant as before:

SansarZDnetWafflewafflewaffle…

Thx to Jo Yardley for giving us her honest opinion about what Ebbe told the ZDNet reporter. I only want to elaborate on one point Ebbe made:

“We’re very fortunate to have over a decade of experience regarding what people want to do when they immerse themselves in a digital world,” Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg said.  

What?

  • Ebbe himself doesn’t have over a decade of experience, he’s much too fresh with LL to know shit.
  • But ok, LL as such should have over a decade of experience regarding what people want to do in SL. Sooo, why the fuck didn’t they ever act accordingly?

I guess you don’t need to be a resi in SL for very long to have figured out how lackluster…

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And now, for something completely different… Araxes!

Those of us old enough to remember when all of the members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus were still alive will recognize the tag line with which their trips into surrealist humor began.  Arguably one of the highlights of the BBC’s oeuvre, along with their adaptations of great novels to film.

I promise you, this’ll be different from my last post (the one before I shared R. Crap Mariner’s post on collaborative creation with you), where I either bored you or made you look askance (what the emoticon O_o means) at me for sharing about my verbal jousts over politics in SL.

I’ve got better things to do with my Second Life. Here’s one of them.

Araxes is a sim which hosts a rich, multi-threaded tapestry of science fiction role-play based very loosely on Joss Whedon and Tim Minear’s tragically short-lived US television series Firefly and the movie Serenity based on the same characters, as well as other science-fiction and mythopoeic fantasy, going back to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.

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Above we see downtown  Araxes, nestled between huge bluffs against the sandstorms which blow in from the surrounding desert.

Araxes and the neighboring space and land are a hive of internecine intrigue, usually seriocomic. There’s a subplot of resistance against the Alliance dominating the cluster of stars to which a remnant of Earth-that-was’s population fled, when their ancestral planet’s ecology died.

The town has a starport on its outskirts. It has the sort of ambience that makes me hear Sir Alec Guinness intone

“Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”

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Across the starport’s runway , that grey blocky building with red trim on its sides in top center-left in the photo above is my workplace, Araxes Medical Center.

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Here, I’m Patricia, Comtesse de Chenier, MD, FCCP.  I’m also a not-all-that-secret agent from the Chenier Moiety of Worlds headquartered on Gliese 581c, 30 light years away. I’m here to investigate a common threat to Araxes, the other worlds on the Rim of the ‘Verse, and my own group of home worlds. I’m just not clear on what it is.

I do my little bit to keep the pot stirred here in Araxes. Between political and diplomatic maneuvers, I treat the orphan Cheryl Anne, whose illnesses are puzzling and strain even the combined resources of Chenier and Araxes.

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Especially puzzling, and not a little disconcerting, are when Cheryl Anne acts out violently, which places me and medical gadgets fetched here from 30 light years away equally at risk:

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At times like this, a quick shot of sedative works wonders.

When I’m not being mysterious and secretive or trying to avoid chairs flung by Cheryl Anne (or trying to find out why she wants to do that), I’m an epidemiologist doing my plodding best to comb Araxes for what’s making people (it’s not just Cheryl Anne by a long shot) turn unpredictably violent.

That involves lurking around every inhabited spot of Araxes, one of the first things I did. (You can tell that from the snapshots, because I didn’t wear hijab that day, and spent my whole day’s water ration washing sand out of my hair later).

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You have to admire the sense of humor of the folks who named this one place “Haven”, though during terraforming, it might have been a haven by default….

But I went as far as checking out orbital facilities where some of the minerals mined here, like “energon” are assayed and processed:

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For trips like this, I don’t even try for “space pretty,” and keep a firm hand on a hypo gun full of “the last kiss good night”.  Just in case “space pretty” is close enough….

Araxes has Firefly-class transports all over, just as, in medieval times, “obsolete” military transport aircraft were found all over Earth-that-was decades after the wars in which they were made and first used, hauling all sorts of things of a non-military nature, like tourists or cannabis sativa.

If you look out the window past me, you’ll see a Firefly parked alongside the shuttle I took back from the orbital mining station.

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What’s making my patient and an increasing number of those who live on or pass through Araxes violently ill (in every sense) could have come here from off-planet, so I took the chance while this freighter’s crew was grabbing cold refreshment in the bars of Freeport to crawl under their ship and take samples around the hull and landing struts.

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Gawd, what a sexy beast!  Modern shuttles and freighters are more efficient, faster, and you can hang more guns and other deadly toys on them, but the Firefly transport just stirs something in a pilot’s soul.

One day, when I’m too old to be useful to the Moiety of Worlds or do any other chores that my older clone-sisters are too busy or exalted to do, I’ll buy one of these handsome brutes and.. well, smuggling’s about the only thing they do better than anything else.

You can touch a Firefly down anywhere, take off anywhere, send its shuttles out for side trips (or smuggle merchandise that’ll fit in a Firefly’s shuttle), and it’ll run on swift kicks and prayers.

And smuggling has a certain homely appeal compared to what I’m doing now.

“Take off those No-colored glasses” – by R. Crap Mariner

“Take off those No-colored glasses” – by R. Crap Mariner

Words to (second) live by, by an SLer with the best avatar name, EVER. Seriously, this guy explains how creative collaboration happens, and he explains it very clearly.

SL Blogger Support

Happy to annouce that R. Crap Mariner (Crap.Mariner) is the first in our new series of guest-bloggers! According to his own SL Profile: ‘I am a sentient clockwork mechanism, manufactured for The Great Exposition of 1851. Various inventors and scientists have tried to improve upon my original plans, but have only twisted and damaged me further.
Crap has his – Secondlife – home in Edloe and is the founder of 100 words stories. His blog is retired but he uses Flickrto tell us about his ideas and views.


Hi there. Caitlin asked folks for helpful advice for bloggers, and I want to tell you a little story about getting over yourself…
Long ago, I used to do some SL Birthday stuff, but things got a bit strained between that crowd and me. I took a few years off from the lag-fest, but during SL13B…

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