Friday, October 21, 2016

Cafe Wellstone, The Twin Political Campaign Buildings, And The Trump Pub

By Bixyl Shuftan

Longtime residents in Second Life may remember Cafe Wellstone, a meeting area for discussion of politically liberal thoughts and topics. As it turns out, the location is still around, yours truly finding out after Any1 Gynoid passed me a landmark to the location it had been moved to since the 2008 election. Named after Paul Wellstone, a US Senator who was killed in a plane crash in 2002, the place showed signs of activity, with a schedule inside of music events. There were also a number of pro-environment and Bernie Sanders signs.

Droping by at the beginning of the third Presidential debate on October 19 at 6PM SL time however, there was only one person around, and he was Away From Keyboard. Perhaps everyone else was busy in real life or otherwise occupied, or perhaps they had gone to the Clinton HQ in Bay City, which the Newser reported on earlier. The place is located at Castle Redwood (245, 160, 21).

Searching for a Trump-themed location, I came across two political HQ buildings in the Hyades sim, both across the street from one another. The taller one was for the Republican nominee Donald Trump, the other for Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. But as the buildings rezzed, the Trump building looked more like a jab at the candidate with the politician depicted as holding two glowing crosses, and on the inside were two thrones and a cartoon of him kissing himself. The Clinton one had a twist on the "Don't Tread on Me" rattlesnake flag sometimes used by the Tea Party, which normally sides against her. There was an active club not far away, but it had nothing to do with the taller buildings.

So where are the Trump supporters? The old locations at Portland Main and Seokcheon reported about a year ago are still around, though these seem to be places to advertise and hand out t-shirts and signs rather than organize events. There has been nothing recent like The Trump Organization, which was noted for it's Trump Manor and later on the Trump HQAfter Linden Lab banned it's leader and several others in the group, one whom had been involved with then told me those whom were left were lying low and staying out of trouble.

There was one new Trump-themed location that I found that didn't look like a jab at the candidate: The Trump Pub. Located at The Waterfall Club (217, 231, 2501), the place was more or less built like a pub with a few Trump campaign signs, an "All Lives Matter" pro-police sign, and a couple signs mocking their opposition. Upstairs was a vendor for T-shirts, caps, and other items with the candidate's name. The place is in an Adult-rated sim, and there was an item that was clearly riskee. There's also a guard dog and a security orb, a sign that not everyone coming here has been doing so with friendly intentions.

As the Presidential campaign has less than three weeks before Election Day, in and out of Second Life it stands in great contrast to the one eight years ago in 2008 in which both the Democrat and Republican candidates appealed mainly to the voters' hopes, and in Second Life there was active debate and an official neutral ground. This year, both of the major party candidates are highly unpopular, even among the electorate of their own parties, and the campaign has been a "race to the bottom" with insults, hyperbolic charges, and both have had to deal with embarrassing leaks that raised questions about their characters. Indeed many people I've talked to stated they have given up on politics, one saying American political discussion had deteriorated to the point of resembling the shrieking of monkeys. The days of "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," and "Vote for your hopes, not for your fears," seem a lifetime away.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

SL Poetry: "Incoming Light" And "Real Life Is Calling Me"

   Incoming Light

It was a restful situation
In the middle of the day
A smoke and peanut butter sandwich
My book before me lay
The book had my attention
That book it ate my lunch
'Cause what the man was trying to say
I didn't have a hunch

I couldn't understand his words
On a certain page
So I read them over and over again
Like a mad man on a rage

Then, suddenly I got it
The Truth had opened wide
I thought to give my eyes a rest
And set that book aside
But when my eyes reopened
It wasn't quite the same
The light was getting brighter
In my direction it came

Incoming light
Brighter than the sun
Incoming light
You and I are one
Incoming light
You called me son

The light kept getting brighter
I could see right through my hand
But the hand was made of the very same light
And now I understand
Then blue sky rolled away
And stars before me lay
But not just separate points of light
They're connected in a spiral kind of way

The answer to every question
In this land could be found
But I asked nothing for myself
'Cept how to spread this news around
Then from somewhere up above
A heavenly voice did come
Imagine what it meant to me
When it called me Son

Incoming light
Brighter than the sun
Incoming light
You and I are one
Incoming light
You called me son

Becky Shamen

* * * * *

"Real Life Is Calling Me"

Real Life is call-ling me,
Real Life is call-ling me,
I'm sorry, I can't stay,
I'm sorry, I gotta go,
Real Life is call-ling me.

Maybe there's thunder and lightning,
and me without a surge protector.
Maybe something went "crash" outside,
and it was much bigger than a woodpecker.

Maybe my neighbor called,
and he really really needs a hand,
Or maybe my dog just ate,
a pack of rubber bands.

I don't have time to tell you now,
so you'll just have to take my word,
I'm not signing off because,
I think you're acting like a nerd.

Real Life is call-ling me,
Real Life is call-ling me,
I'm sorry, I can't stay,
I'm sorry, I gotta go,
Real Life is call-ling me.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 17, 2016

Science Friday

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

When the Editor, Bixyl Shuftan, mentioned this destination, he did not have details, but it sounded like the perfect location for this reporter to explore. Bixyl explained that it was a group in Second Life that gets together on Fridays to listen to a NPR radio program, called "Science Friday" and discuss the topics that are covered in the two hour program. Science and Art have been my two greatest interests, throughout this life time. While I am, technically, an amateur, some of my theories could stand their own against those of the pros. When watching science videos, narrated by celebrity scientists, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox and Bill Nye, I'll debate them in a heart beat. In a group debate, you'll find me sitting on the same side as Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku (my favorite). My top three theories include; What Dark Matter is and why we can't see it, The real story of the Big Bang and The True Shape of the Universe is a Big Donut. Recently, scientists have begun to confirm my donut, calling it a spherical torus.

Determined to find the group and location, we did several searches and found the group that hosts the event. The group's description stated that they conducted Friday meetings and that Second Life comments and questions would be linked to the live radio broadcast, but the location of these meetings was left out. To get the whole story, I joined the group and then opened group chat to ask for the LM. Within minutes, one of the members shared a LM. Armed with a time and place, there was only one question left, for this scientist to ask. What to wear??? Intuition hints that this event might favor coming in human form, so I selected my "Newser-Jade" outfit.  It turns out that, although most were human, we were joined by a cyborg, so it probably isn't important.

When Friday came, I was the first to arrive. in the center, there is a conference table, with a limited number of chairs and around the perimeter there are hanging basket chairs. As a newbie/observer, I selected a basket, with a good view of the room. As members arrived, I was invited to sit at the table. Each time that somebody sits at the table, it increases it's size and number of seats. One of the members, Beragon Betts, sent a friend request. Heavens YES, it's always good to have friends that out-rank us in the member's hierarchy and are more "in the know" than us. Beragon is friendly and helpful and has since come to visit Sunweaver Bay and Sunny Beach's Gathering Oak.

During the Science Friday event, I noticed there didn't seem to be communication between the group gathered and the radio program. I learned that, it had been so, in the past, until Linden Lab regulations stopped it. Linden Lab realized it shot itself in the foot, by ousting non-profit groups and reversed the rules. It may take time to heal, because schools are reluctant to return to teaching in a world that supports sex and vampires, over the acquisition of knowledge.

The radio program provided a number of topics, which we discussed in nearby chat. Some of the members were professional scientists and the group, as a whole, had an above average knowledge in science topics. The first topic was about research of gene editing to create bulls without horns and hey, we all like to talk a little bull, now and then. The second topic was about the continuing AI research needed to get computers to understand the spoken language. The sounds that carry our thoughts to others has always been of great interest to this writer. So much so that, I created my own True Type Font, called "DiJiFon," with a 40 letter phonetic alphabet, with each letter stored in only 8 bits, that can be displayed on any digital watch.
   Attending Science Friday is a great adventure, for it's friendly people and leading edge, on topic discussions. But Wait, there's MORE!!! It's all about Location, Location, Location.
   The Science Friday location is right in the midst of several science sims, including scale models of rockets, landers and satellites. I always get a thrill from the shift in perception of going from seeing it on paper to walking up to and going inside of the full scale model.
   Hop in the cargo bay bed of this Texas size pick-up, because Houston: We are go for launch. Come, 4...3...2...1... your way to some fun and start next week-end  with a sub orbital journey to Science Friday.

Editor's Note: Science Friday did have a presence in Second Life for a while, including the host having an avatar here and taking questions from residents. But in 2010 this came to an end, the cost of virtual land being stated as one of several reasons.