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I’ve ruined enjoyment for thousands. What dorks! LOL! July 31, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary, reflections.
2 comments

There are rumors that suggest that the recent slowdowns and problems with the grid are caused by a large scale attack by griefers, who are exploiting a hole in the Linden scripting language.

Sigh.

The griefers say, basically, that they do it just for laughs.

In some ways they are similar to many in Second Life. Both of us are here because our own, real lives are unsatisfactory in some way. We are both here, in Second Life, because we are trying to have a little fun. The main difference is what they consider “fun” is causing distress and pain in others.

They don’t really see it that way, of course. Many griefers simply dehumanize their victims, for whatever reason. Perhaps they feel a sense of superiority because they know the dangers and exploits out there while others are too “stupid” to know about them. This mentality is similar to those who plant viruses on the internet. And anyone too stupid to know what “physhing” is deserves what ever they get. It doesn’t occur to them most people aren’t as computer obsessed as they are, and just want to go online to have a little fun or to learn things. There are people who, horror of horrors, couldn’t care less about computers.

Some do it as a kind of power trip. I can picture a bunch of 14 year-olds (or adults whose emotional maturity has not grown beyond 14) laughing their asses off because they strap on some kind of giant penis, walk into a sim, and watch everyone scurry around like ants. Again, they dehumanize. The feelings and emotions they provoke in others are not valid to them, because THEY think its funny, and therefore EVERYONE should think its funny, and if they don’t, well, they don’t count anyway. And, of course, they expect to be banned, and sometimes removed from the game. That’s hilarious to them, as well. “Ha ha ha,” they laugh, “those stupid turd-heads. I’ll just make another alt and do the same thing. In fact, I’m so smart I write software that turns out alts for me by the hundreds, and I can use them whenever I need them! LOL!”

And then there are those who make destructive objects…sim crashing, SL crashing objects. The same mentality as those who make viruses, and exploit whatever imperfections they find in the system. A false sense of power. “Look at how smart I am!” The more damage they cause, the more powerful they feel. Again, they dehumanize. They couldn’t care less about the consequences of their actions…lost money, broken-up education sessions, friends unable to join, meetings unable to meet, business unable to get done. They don’t do any of these things, so what do they care about the people who do. Dorks! LOL.

And then there are the griefers who spoiled the ending of the Harry Potter books. “Ha ha ha! I think this is a stupid book. You must be stupid for reading it. Stupid people don’t deserve to enjoy themselves. The feelings of Stupid people don’t count…only my opinions count. So who cares if I spoil their fun…their feelings aren’t valid to me, anyway. LOL!”

The reason that such behavior is called juvenile is that the ability to truly empathize and understand that people other than themselves have feelings begins to occur in early childhood and is supposed to develop and refine itself until they become adults. Progress in empathic development often becomes negative during the teenage years, where the child’s own emotional changes overwhelm them and they withdraw from empathic feelings in an attempt to cope with their own. This, generally, cures itself with maturity. For many, however, the level of maturity required to re-attain empathy never emerges. Just as teenagers consider themselves fully mature and all grown up from the ages of fourteen to eighteen, there is no telling these emotionally immature grown-ups that they still have some growing up to do.

  • “The niggers aren’t human. They’re stupid. Let’s burn crosses on their porches, terrorize them, and go back to the clan and have a laugh about it afterwards. Ha ha ha.”
  • “The kikes are subhuman. They are greedy and exploit people. Let’s torture a few, send them off to the gas chambers. Power. Grin of satisfaction. I am smarter and more powerful than they are. They are not worthy. Who cares if they die or not?”
  • “I’m smarter and stronger than all women. I have needs. Who cares if they scream and cry as I rape them. Isn’t it funny watching the terror in their eyes as I put a knife to their throat. They’re feelings don’t matter. I am powerful. They were so stupid as to let me capture them. They deserve what they can get.”
  • “The Americans aren’t human, because they are not Muslim. They have tried to impose their evil ways on our people. They deserve the worst we can do to them. Let us blow them up in cars, fly airplanes into their buildings and kill them by the thousands. Let us exterminate them. They are not worthy in the eyes of Allah, as taught to me by my human teachers. Let us destroy the animals, and smile and chant happily in the street when we do it. For their feelings and lives do not count. Again, they are not human, so my God will reward me for doing this.”

I’d give more examples, but writing this stuff has put such a repugnant vile taste in my mouth that I can no longer bring myself to type the words.

Am I comparing the actions of griefers to murders, racists, and rapists? Of course not. I would think it extremely likely that the typical griefer would find the above acts as repugnant as I do. Most are educated, and they would often consider themselves to have a strong sense of social conscience, albeit perhaps distorted.

Nevertheless, the mentality that allows the griefer to do what he does is the same basic mentality that has caused the worst atrocities the world has ever known. Dehumanization. Invalidation of others. Feelings of, “they deserve whatever they get.” The moment we invalidate the feelings of another human being and consider those feelings to be less valid than our own, we create the environment where such atrocities are possible. For although almost no griefer would ever expand their actions to anywhere near the extreme of the above examples, then environment of invalidation perpetuates itself through the acts of invalidation.

And “telling” them this accomplishes nothing, ’cause they are after all, smarter than we are.

Sigh.

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Our Wildest Dreams… July 23, 2007

Posted by Steve in reflections.
2 comments

Imagine a world where we can do anything we want, have anything we want, or BE anything we want. Second Life is a fascinating snapshot of many people trying to make this fantasy a reality.

SL is not quite the ideal environment for making our wildest dreams come true, unfortunately. There is still commerce,the limitations of Linden physics, and (shudder) the necessity of interacting with other avs whose dreams might be diametrically opposed ot yours. SL does lend itself easily to the realization of some dreams, however. The dream of having a different appearance or gender is elementarily realized here. This is likely the reason why we see so many people with alternative sexual orientations in SL. It is the playground where their dreams can be so easily brought to life. It is little wonder that so many people who are experimenting with being the opposite gender don’t confess this openly…to do so would snap the “reality” of the dream.

It also explains the plethora of sexual promiscuity in SL. Many guys have the “super stud” dream, and some women have whatever the female equivalent of this mentality is. (Side note: it is interesting that while super stud is arguably not a derogatory term, I can think of no female equivalent terms that aren’t derogatory in some way.) There are people whose wildest dream is to have sex ALL the time with the gender or genders of their choosing. Such behavior strikes me as being somewhat adolescent, but then, what better place to grow beyond emotional adolescence than in the comparatively “safe” environment of SL. One wonders how many truly grow beyond it, however.

SL lends itself well to certain other kinds of fantasies: Fairies and Furies being among them. Other fantasies are harder to realize. Being a “superhero” is kind of pointless in a world where no one can be hurt unless they chose to deliberately expose themselves to places where such hurt is possible. It is also hard to maintain a secret identity when one’s name floats a meter above one’s head.

The question that then arises is if such realization of dreams are “real.” The answer to this, of course, is that the dreams realized in SL are as real as we choose them to be. We don’t directly “experience” the real world–it is instead filtered through a limited range of nerves and neurons.. There has been some question as to whether the experience of dreaming (as in the kind we do when we sleep) is just as valid to our minds as the real world is. From the brain’s perspective, there is no real difference between a dream and a waking state. The same neurons get fired, the same synapses close…the reality of our nocturnal dreams is just as valid as waking life, as far as the mechanics of the brain is concerned.

To say that what one experiences in SL is not “real” is merely a matter of perspective. One can argue that the experiences of SL are far more “real” than the experiences of television, of movies, or even of literature. In SL, one interacts with the active, real minds of others. Television, movies, and books are passive in comparison. No matter how much these other media may fire our imagination, the experience is entirely internal. One does not “interact” with the characters of a fiction book…the book will end the same way, no matter how many times one reads it. When one walks into a sim in SL, one can never quite know what to expect. SL reflects the unpredictability of reality in its pixel-generated mirror.

One could even make the argument that SL is MORE real than reality, as the number of minds we can meet from all different ilks remains far greater than the number of minds that many can meet in reality, at least for most SL residents. The factor of randomness therefore increases–and thus does the possibilities of meeting others who alter our narrow mindsets. And now the time has come for my animator to try to experience more dreams of the nocturnal variety. He is falling asleep at the keyboard, barely having the stamina to complete this last sentence before drifting off to the “reality” of sleep induced dream-scapes.

If we dream of walking across fields in SL, what differences is there between that and dreams of RL?

Precious little, I would imagine.

A New Blog for a Princess July 16, 2007

Posted by Steve in introduction.
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Her royal highness, Princess Ivory, wishes to announce the creation of a new blog, called, er, Her Royal Highness, Princess Ivory. The address is http://hrhprincessivory.blogspot.com/. Check it out, if you are so inclined. 🙂

Harry Potter and the Copper Pipes July 16, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary.
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What a weekend! FOUR events at the Reader’s Garden, and two Harry Potter events in one day. Our attendance at everything was excellent…we had over 60 people at the Harry Potter events alone. More Harry coming up on Friday, and still some prep to go with that…

My animator is in for a busy, busy week. His father-in-law is in town for the next five days from Colorado to replace the ugly old water pipes with shiny copper ones. They also plan to rip off the walls in the bathroom, replace the sink, and put up bead-board. And while this is going on, My animator and his wife had Carmina to worry about. The performance is on Wednesday with an extra long rehearsal on Tuesday.

So, with all of this going on, my in-world time is likely to be limited. I’ll be checking my e-mail regularly though, and should be able to come if anything is urgent. So, I ask my readership not to have any crises this week! I would want to help–probably would help–but it might take my animator away from his plumbing duties, and I would feel quite guilty.

So, I hope all is well with everyone. I’ll try to pop in from time to time during the week, but, well, we shall see, shan’t we? 🙂

Later.

General Raam is dead… July 9, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary.
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The light mass bomb was launched, finally destroying the enemy stronghold. We’ve won a major battle, but the war rages on. If the Locusts would just tell us what this was all about, maybe we could strike a deal and live in peace.

Maybe it’ll happen, but there will be more bloodshed first. If we don’t continue the fight, humanity will all die. Until they talk, it’s them or us.

Hey, you know, I’m ready to listen any time.

A busy but productive Sunday. July 9, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary.
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The Princess and I started on our mermaid grotto / waterfall / cave area yesterday. So far, the lake looks like a big swimming pool. The area is also going to end up being rather prim intensive. No matter. There’s no particular hurry. This is going to be a long term project with multiple levels of complexity. We would prefer for it not to look butt-ugly during its construction, but beyond that, we plan to take our time and do it right. Textures, textures, textures. So critical…so hard to find the perfect ones. We have some that will do for now, but we are keeping our eyes open for better.

I’m putting the finishing touches on the tree house. I tried doing some base twisting, so that the bottom wouldn’t look quite so straight. But I don’t have the twisted touch, and I was unable to make anything that looked even remotely attractive. (If anyone has ideas, I’m open to them).

I had also originally envisioned a complex, pulley style system to get you from the ground to the house. But now I’m just thinking on borrowing some Faeria magic and putting down a stump or a mushroom or some such to TP you to the main deck, invoking the K.I.S.S principle. It’s far from the prettiest tree house out there, but it’s far from the worst, either. I don’t think I’m going to place copies of it for sale, what with all the Linden trees I used for its construction. Linden trees don’t work and play well with other prims. But it should make for a most attractive rental property. The Princess and I are thinking about another tree house, and maybe a mushroom for additional rental properties.

Hestia hung around for a while we were setting up the Princess’s new office (a beautiful fantasy cottage), but she didn’t have much to input and eventually got bored and took off somewhere. Her sister Minerva has a lot of flowers in her inventory from her Renaissance Island days, and the Princess is sure she can talk her into planting them in strategic places. So Kindred Spirit land is gradually coming together, and a sort of plan is forming in our minds. I’m excited to see how it will all turn out.

I sold 3 Cataporters, a sauna, 3 tithing boxes, some tables and some benches over the weekend, so business was brisk. I made someone a custom 6 person bench, but I later learned that for some reason (size, number of scripts, who knows), the max size seems to be five. The same person who wanted the 6 IMd me and requested an 8. I gave her twice number of 4 person benches and explained that the 6’s I gave her were defective. Still, she liked my furnishings. She starting her own sim and says that my furniture is perfect for it. To me, my furniture seems so incredibly simple, but for a non-builder, it’s just what they want for their rustic, medieval villages. Works for me. I’m performing a needed service and making some money to boot. The money will in turn get rolled into either public spaces or tier fees, and maybe an occasional toy for me. Capitalism at its finest.

A Celebration of Evil July 8, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary, reflections.
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PHC was, quite frankly, weird yesterday. Alpha bound and chained to a burning pole, FD caged, Evil Catherine turning into a snake, Evil Alpha tossing out occassional evil comments, and the Princess’s and my own evil twins coming out whatever hidden hole they usually hide in. There was supposedly a radio program going on as well.

Mykyl was somewhat disturbed by it all, and, although it was all done in good fun, I have to admit that I can see the reasons behind her disturbance. Although what we did yesterday was practically G rated evil (well, maybe Evil Alpha was PG-13, but then regular Alpha is usually PG-13 anyway), there is a fascination with the evil side of human nature that exists in the world that I, frankly, find very disturbing. To me, it is best demonstrated by the popularity of the slasher film. If you want to learn how not to defend yourself against a supernatural psychotic killer, or if indeed this is a career you are interested in pursuing, then watch the great classics of Friday the 13th, Freddy’s Dead, etc…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked out at ourselves only to once again be surprised by our self-destructive nature. How often do the great thinkers and artists and film makers of this world celebrate imperfection, avarice, and vice? They refuse to believe in the possibility of real virtue, not only refusing to acknowledge its demonstration, but also actually scoffing and ridiculing its attempt.

Why are the movies that are celebrated as being ‘True To Life’ the ones that universally show the darkest, ugliest side of humanity? Movies that depict someone as being brave and heroic are dismissed by the critic as being, at best, harmless fluff.

And what do we get as a result? We get generations of people who think weakness and moral corruption are not only normal, but also actually expected of them. Many people no longer attempt to be ethical because ethics are no longer celebrated in today’s culture.

If you want to be depressed, watch depressing movies that conclude that life is unfair and hopeless. Read books that talk about depressed people. It’s all a question of how we want to train the neurons in our brain to respond.

Personally, I can’t see what people enjoy about slasher films. They seem to be meaningless, to have no application to my life. I can get nothing out of them. I would watch one, spend most of the movie shaking my head at the idiocy displayed on the screen, and then, after its over after having gained . . . nothing. Yes, my heart may have pounded a little harder. Yes, my adrenaline began to flow faster. But I certainly did not enjoy myself. I did not learn anything. In fact, in the long run, I’d say that I am probably worse off after the film then before. Now I’m going out with more fear of the environment around me. I’m more likely to have nightmares or paranoid feelings. I don’t understand where people find pleasure in that.

Or maybe I can, if I draw the proper analogy. Maybe it’s similar to a drug addiction. The chemical rush. But, though it causes physiological changes to the body, its not likely that you’ve improved yourself in anyway. You won’t be any different than you were before, and any changes that may take place is to the negative.

In so many ways, we create the life for ourselves that we want to have. There is so little time in our lives to try to achieve our dreams and goals. Is it really useful to spend our precious time watching things that dis-empower us? Things that aren’t going to prepare us for real life but instead prepare us for some surrealistic, hellish, fantasy world were evil wins more often then not and those who try to think and plan lose anyway? Yes, entertainment is important sometimes, but there is also negative entertainment. Things that will give our bodies physiological rushes but leave us feeling empty, feeling worse about ourselves, and worse about life in general.

It’s not that I dislike all violence in movies. Take, for example, the Indian Jones films. There is a tremendous amount of violence in these films, and much of it is not of the comic book variety. But there is also a hero in these films. Someone who conquers insurmountable odds using skill, quick thinking, and a little bit of luck, and comes out victorious in the end. Maybe it’s not always realistic in the way they come out victorious, but that empowerment, that feeling that you can take control of your life is there, always there, as a kind of underlying message. It’s an uplifting experience, not just mindless entertainment.

By contrast, in slasher films it is often the strong, the intelligent, the leaders, who bite the big knife. This gives a message about the meaninglessness of struggle. It promotes the concept that you can strive and try hard, and gain nothing, absolutely nothing, for your efforts. Yes, sometimes life is unfair. Sometimes really rotten things do happen in life. But I still like the movie where the resourceful, the quick-witted, or the courageous comes through in the end. This gives hope. It demonstrates that perseverance and persistence can help you to win even if you do fail sometimes.

The Secular 12 Step Program (draft 1) July 7, 2007

Posted by Steve in philosophy.
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1. I admit I am powerless over my flaws — that my life has become unmanageable.

2. I believe that releasing my ownership and self-reproach of the problem is the key to my sanity.

3. I have decided to turn my life over to the inner voice of my Ideal Self, and to let this voice guide me.

4. I have decided to make a searching and fearless inventory of myself.

5. I have decided to admit fully and honestly to myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.

6. I am entirely ready to have my defects of character removed.

7. I ask the inner voice of my Ideal Self for guidance to help me remove my shortcomings.

8. I will make a list of all persons I have harmed, and become willing to make amends to all of them.

9. I will make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. I will continue to take personal inventory and when I was wrong, I will promptly admit fault.

11. I will seek through meditation to improve my ability to hear my inner voice, seeking for wisdom, and for strength to act it out.

12. Seeing the light because of these steps, I will try to carry these messages to others, and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

The Voice of Joy July 6, 2007

Posted by Steve in philosophy, reflections.
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Are thinking and joy compatible? I sometimes wonder…

The answer is an obvious yes, but at the same time, I’ve come to realize that often thinking can get in the way of what our subconscious thinks is best for us.

Inside of us all, there is a little voice, hidden behind the conscious, hiding behind the layer that we sometimes think is the subconscious, and hidden even a couple of layers deeper than that. It is a voice based on love, and never on hatred or fear or acts of violence, either internal or external.

This voice knows the true difference between right and wrong. It is this voice which knows what our, “Best Self,” is. Some call it the voice of God. Some just say that it is a part of us. Perhaps there is no difference.

The point is that this voice is virtually impossible to hear, what with all the other negative thoughts fighting it out in our heads. To quiet our minds enough to be able to listen is the challenge. The next challenge is to use our conscious minds to evaluate the voice honestly. We can’t know when a negative thought can mimic the voice. We can’t know if the voice is considering all factors. But we can’t weed out the words to the extent that they carry no strength either. It comes to balance again.

I’ve been looking for this voice again lately. I used to listen to it all the time in the past…some of the happiest times of my life. The voice has drowned out by so much other drek lately. But I’m making the effort, and I think, or at least hope, that that is half the battle.

A day in two lives… July 5, 2007

Posted by Steve in diary.
3 comments

Raam still lives. My animator has read every bit of guidance there is on the Internet–I’ve tried everything. I actually successfully killed the SOB once, but I did not advance to the next level — my animator must have pressed a wrong button somewhere. Sigh…

In any event, the Princess and I looked at some other tree houses yesterday, and it inspired me to tackle it again. I quadrupled the floor space and made the tree MUCH larger. Now it looks there are possibilities. It currently looks like a huge box on a stick, but I have ideas as to what to do about that. I may actually have a rentable living space before too long.

And the Princess’s ocean skybox is…wow. The sound of the crashing surf, the look of the rolling waves, the wide expanse of sand, with plenty of room for building. It’s more peaceful than our old property in Kush. No neighbors up there in the sky. More of a feel of seclusion. I love it up there. The water isn’t deep enough to put in a mermaid grotto, though. I’m hoping the Princess gets inspired to work on hers soon.

We never did get to see any fireworks in-world last night. The animators of the Princess and I got together and went over the notes from Karmina instead. They were outside. Fireworks all around, fireflies…it could have been a very nice evening if my animator wasn’t crawling out of his skin for whatever reason. Happens sometimes. Oh well.