August 30th, 2007

SecondLife

While I'm catching up with stuff ...

You were dying to know how SLCC07 went, weren't you?

Well, if you were to believe The Press, this is how the Convention looked:

... complete with furries, semi-furries, bondage fairies, and assorted other ill-socialized types.

When, in fact, 90% of the time, this is how the Convention looked:

... featuring corporate representatives, major charities, and developers of assorted stripes.

Also, if you believe The Press, the whole conference was all about cybersex.

I attended most of the "MacArthur meta-track", ping-ponging between the Business and Education tracks, with the occasional venture into the Social and Machinima tracks. Here's the list of what I was at:
          MacArthur Foundation Keynote
          I.P. Rights and the Law in S.L.
          Humanities and the Arts
          Corporate Design
          Teens Making Machinima within Non-Profits
          User Acceptance
          Art World Market
          S.L. Developers
          Best Practices Bringing Non-Profits into S.L.
          Events and Marketing in S.L.
          Case Studies: Selling Real-Life Products
          Role of Philanthropy in Virtual Worlds
          S.L. and the Media

It's too bad that nearly all the post-convention ink concentrated on the one party and one workshop. There was a lot of serious work being done there!


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El

(sigh)

On Sunday morning I was walking down to catch the El at Chicago & State to get to the Second Life convention and saw this bit of construction happening in the middle of the street ...





They were pulling out the old Trolley tracks and had them laid out like this. I know that these keep eroding up through the blacktop, so are constantly creating a problem in the streets, but it's sort of sad to see them ripped up. I remember when I was a kid all the buses that ran off of the over-head cables ... especially the web of lines that came in at places like North & Clark.

{cross-posted to chicago_el}


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Loon

Less than meets the eye?

O.K., let me say up front that I was never really exposed to the Transformers beyond being generally aware of the toys via TV ads and occasionally stumbling past the animated show when flipping channels. The were "after my time", so I have no connection with the "characters" except generally recognizing the names "Optimus Prime" and "Megatron".

I ended up sitting in a movie theater watching Transformers largely due to the (apparent) fact that Underdog sucked so much that it was already gone from all the downtown theaters, and I had agreed to take Daughter #2 "out" so that Daughter #1 could have a chaos-minimized play date with one of her friends. However, #2 was happy to go see this because her (teenage) camp counselors had said it was very cool, so seeing it was no doubt going to rub off some of that coolness on her.

If I had to pick one word to describe Transformers, it would be "incoherent", followed by (given it's 2:35 run time) "long". This is not a good combination, as, on one hand, I was really wishing they would do something with any one of the plot lines, but for them to satisfactorily tie up the multitudinous loose ends would have made this a five-hour epic ... and it wasn't good enough for that sort of time. Now, this is not to say it wasn't visually interesting, and, frankly, its (fairly implausible) teen love story was well done, and some of the "backstory" bits were truly fascinating. It's just that nothing was done enough (OK, the love story part probably was the one successful arc in this) to leave one in a non-"WTF?" state by the end. Even Daughter #2 was asking "is it going to be over soon?" by a couple of hours in.

To their credit, with the sole exception of John Voight (and an early cameo by Bernie Mac), the cast was put together with reasonably unknown talent who fit their roles very well. Unfortunately, the "tone" of the movie swung back and forth from typical sci-fi to teen romance to outright farce (especially when the robots were around), with the writing dragging along behind.

Of course, being that I didn't expect to actually see this movie, my expectations were pretty low going in, so it was (as the late Richard Jeni intoned in his tongue-in-cheek A&E promos) "time, well ... spent". At least Daughter #2 seemed to enjoy having Daddy to herself all afternoon!


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Loon

And now to piss off the other half of my readers ...

I gotta tell you, it's really not a whole lot of fun being a politically Conservative but socially Libertarian person in the world today. It seems, from where I'm standing, that everybody is insane. The people who aren't actively in the cheering section for everything anti-American are likely to have an Invisible Friend which defines almost everything else they do, and the ones who are not suckered in by religion are as willing to believe Leftist lies and participate in the most inexcusable behavior based on delusional theory. Having twisted the panties of the first group with my rah-rah review of Mr. Dawkins' book, I'm now going to raise the blood pressure of the latter crowd with a similarly enthusiastic plug for a "right wing" title.

I hadn't been as familiar with Mona Charen as I have been, for example, with Ann Coulter, but I assume that is because Ann's always got her face on Fox, which I'll tune in for five minutes here and there while inhaling a sandwich out in the kitchen. I'd known the name, but it was one of those that I wasn't even sure on which side of the fence she was. Well, from reading Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First I'd say that she's as sharp as Ann, but willing to leave religion at home, and not as eager to "make trouble"!

I have frequently written how I wish that liberals would read some book or another that I had just gotten done with, just to see themselves in some other context, and I had that same desire cropping up again and again while reading this book. Charen starts this with the end of the Cold War and how the Left has been desperately trying to re-write history to make it look like they never were on the wrong side of it. Throwing harsh light on the lies, she uses extensive research to show the trend from the early days of support of the Soviets through blatant disregard of all Communist atrocities, and the constant refrain that "if it wasn't for (America's sins), none of (fill in the current bloodbath) would be happening". Millions of deaths at the hands of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and their admirers are brushed away by the left with platitudes that make lingering racism and economic stratification in the U.S. seem like worse crimes.

Frankly, I should try to steer clear of books like Useful Idiots as I really do try to maintain a certain equanimity in my life, and reading the tales of what can only be called treason by nearly half of the political spectrum riles me up. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful that books like this are out there to shed light on the "emperors new clothes"-like pass that the Left gets, but when I'm done reading something like this I end up so frustrated that people who, by all rights, should have been hung as traitors decades ago manage to have thriving careers in politics, the media, entertainment and academia with nobody even asking why they're still breathing!

Once again, I wish a LOT of people would read this ... I would, honestly, like to have liberals read this and give me their take on it ... although I suspect it would be the old "oh, you're still seeing commies under the bed!" feint. Now, this is still in print, and you can get it from your local bookstore for twenty-eight bucks, but why not take advantage of Amazon's new/used vendors ... there are currently nine copies of the hardcover edition for (or an even $4 with shipping), ranging from "good" to "like new", available from those guys. Come on, four lousy bucks to have your eyes opened to the perfidy of the Left ... what's keeping your from looking?

By the way, this was another of the books finished on my recent long road trip, and I suspect that it will amuse some that this was finished on 8/20 when we were in Boise.


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