Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Japanese notecard in a stamp rally prize

Congratulations on the stamp rally conquest.
Thank you for getting the prize of ClioneCAFE ・A&S.

It copies and enjoy putting it in various places about Barcelona chair, please though the transformer cannot be done.

It is thought that it wants to open the shop holding out in the future in the future.
Please continue your favors toward A&S when meeting you moreover.

I hope IM even as for * ayap shuffle * when there are something an uncertain point etc.

I am Japanese.
Time falls behind the answer during the translation.

(I'm putting that last line in my profile.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lette n'est pas un pipe.

The following piece is a response to Lou Netizen's post about the use of alts in Second Life. I strongly recommend you read hers first.

I can't be angry at your post any more than I can be angry at my evangelical Christian cousins who were raised to believe that my lovestyle is wrong and sinful and who, at age 13, thought the idea of me roller skating hand-in-hand with a boy of another race was unthinkably ludicrous. Anger in that case is simply waste of energy, since my relatives' perspective is based on a set of beliefs they take as "true" that I see as mythology.

Your outlook is clearly based on a set of beliefs about what SL is or should be that is at odds with mine and, to be frank, with the Lindens', which wouldn't ordinarily be something I'd make a case of except that you spend much of your post assuming that the Linden position on alts is neutral and that they must simply be lazy for not having adopted all of the technological tweaks that you identify for preventing the use of alts.

Do you really suppose there are very many Lindens who don't have an alt account of their own for when they want to circulate in-world without being pigeon-holed by their last name? Most probably also have alts for technical purposes, like testing new developments. Talk about trust... there is already a serious lack of trust toward the Lindens. If they could have alts and we couldn't, there would be a serious fracture there. Alts are not simply a necessary evil of Second Life, and they're not even controversial in the eyes of the world's creators; they are part of what SL is.

Here is the first paragraph from SL's Alt Account FAQ: "Alternate accounts... multiple identities... We all have them in some way or another. Perhaps in real life you're an entrepreneur in the morning, soccer mom in the afternoon, and vegetarian chef in the evening. In Second Life, you get to externalize these roles in customized, uniquely identifiable personas -- otherwise known as alt accounts. How cool is that?"

If you search the SL Wiki, you can also find instances in which residents are instructed to create alt accounts in order to accomplish certain technical or administrative tasks. For instance: "When ordering a Teen Grid estate, you should create an alt account and place order with that account. This account will be the estate owner and will be transformed when background check is in."

Alts are not only part of SL's culture but also part of SL's ecosystem. They aren't the result of some people trying to gain an advantage in the system, even though some people use alts that way. If LL eradicated alts, as you seem to think they should (the basis of your argument being that it is technologically possible to do so), major aspects of the world's infrastructure would need to be completely rebuilt.

As you freely admit, your view on this topic is related to your tendency to want to duplicate RL within SL. And when I went to Japan at age 14, I was most comfortable eating at Pizza Hut and Carl's Jr. We cling to what is most familiar to us, especially when the alternatives seem strange and unusual. If I went back to Japan now, 19 years later, however, I would be branching out and being a bit more adventurous (and stuffing my face with sushi).

You point out accurately that "the vast majority of in-world building and content emulates real life." This is a psychological inevitability. It's about frame of reference. It is not possible to imagine or create things without them being somehow in reference to what one already knows, believes, or understands. Even something that seems to have no direct relation to RL is thought up because of its lack of relationship to RL and thus still exists in relation to it.

Frame of reference, however, is merely a basis; it's not a limitation. There's no way for SL not to resemble RL, but there's also no way for SL to duplicate RL, either. Strict adherence to an RL frame of reference within SL can be just as ridiculous and arbitrary as its opposite can be daunting: why do toilets and ovens exist in SL? There's no reason outside of whatever symbolic value their creators and owners apply to them.

Despite the virtual world being based on multiple RL frames of reference, everyone in SL embraces at least some of the elements that are NPIRL (not possible in RL, for the unfamiliar). This is a technological inevitability. I'm not even talking about obvious things like flying and teleporting, I'm talking about the basic makeup of the avatar. We aren't snails in RL, carrying our entire homes on our backs (and those who do certainly don't have 30,000 items in their knapsack), but in SL, all of our material and immaterial possessions are available at the click of a mouse. Changing our SL hair length or color is as easy as changing the part in our RL hair. Those like yourself who choose to replicate themselves in-world actually put more effort into doing so than those who seek out a new virtual self (or selves) because it is an unnatural use of the ecosystem's resources. It can be fun or interesting as a project, but when it begins to resemble a moral crusade, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of virtuality.

Or to quote my favorite artist, "Ceci n'est pas un pipe."

by Rene Magritte

This is not a pipe. It is a representation of a pipe. No matter how accurately drawn it is (which isn't the same as being well drawn), it will not be a pipe. Even if it were a photograph, it would still not be a pipe. In fact, if you laid a dozen representations of pipes side by side -- a surrealist drawing, a realist drawing, a photograph, a film of a person smoking the pipe -- no representation would be a "better" representation of the pipe than any other. Anyone who understands the referential symbol of "pipe" will recognize that it is being depicted in all of the representations. For that reason, it is unnecessary to bend over backward to make the most "real" looking pipe you can, when the mode of representation ends up communicating more information about the intent of the representation than does its subject.

Regardless of whether you recreate the scar behind your head, your nose ring, your bodily dimensions, and your hair at the precise length it happens to be in RL on a daily basis, Lou Netizen will never be RL Lou. It is a representation of RL Lou. Furthermore, the fact that you do attempt to attain a factual physical representation of yourself communicates far more about you than the finished aesthetic product.

I know you understand that on one level, but it's unclear whether you understand it on the terms provided by the virtual world. SL is a composite of referents from numerous real and imagined sources. The hybridity made up from the psychological and technological inevitabilities I've already mentioned is not incidental; it's specifically what constitutes the virtual.

And to bring it back to the central point of discussion, alts, I contend that your anger about alts is based on a misconception of what virtual identity means.

The baseline point of interaction within SL is not the user but the avatar. They are obviously connected, not dichotomous, but the degree of relevance to the connection between a user and his or her avatar varies and shifts and evolves. This dynamic is uncomfortable for some because it requires much more mental and social flexibility than we usually need to practice in RL.

The topic of trust is interesting to me because my approach is very different from yours. As long as I'm only dealing with a particular person/avatar on a superficial level, I take them at face value and base my trust on how I interact with them within the avatar-to-avatar context. An avatar is who he or she depicts him or herself to be. If I were to find out that the (completely hypothetical) scrawny male neko I stood next to at Sharon's in the morning were the same person as the flighty female rabbit I traded barbs with at Shiraz in the evening, it would matter to me not a smidge. If I were to learn he was actually the alt of a good friend of mine, it would matter, but not on the level of trust; it would matter on the level of, "Oh man, I can't believe I didn't recognize you."

When you start to know someone beyond the avatar level, trust becomes more of an issue. If that scrawny neko boy and I started conversing on a more personal level and he didn't eventually tell me that he was someone I knew quite well already, then it could become a problem. But the problem is not the alt; the problem is the use of the alt.

SL is a surveillance society as it is. We are endowed with cameras we can use to see as far as 512 meters away, through walls and landscaping. We can turn off rendering on volume and view the naked, squishy bodies of people who forgot to wear system clothing under their tiny avatars (or glitch pants under their kilts). We can set our voice chat preferences to pick up voice from our camera position so that we can listen in on conversations being held in public voice from much further away than we can "hear" text in local chat. We can highlight transparent and see if a male (or occasionally female) avatar is wearing an invisible cock. And none of this is in violation of the Terms of Service. It's built into the system, and we adapt to it, by both adjusting our habits to secure our privacy and adjusting our attitudes toward it (e.g., "Meh, I don't care who sees me getting groiny with my honey if they're going so far as to cam 200m to do it.") to preserve our sanity.

The awareness that at any time we might be conversing with someone we know by a different name is part of this adjustment. Failing to do so might cause social rifts, and it might get you banned from Marine Park for "putting down the park," but it's not a whole lot different from gossiping about someone who can hear you from inside a restroom stall. Trust, therefore, is really not that important when it comes to superficial interactions: all you need to do is Not Say Anything Stupid.

Virtual identity, therefore, is not constructed the same way that RL identity is constructed. The way we relate to one another in RL and the value that we place on social concepts like "trust" developed within a context dictated by a particular set of biological and environmental circumstances. Virtual technology is not designed for it to be the same. To try to extend the rules that confine us through our biology and physical environment into a domain where neither are identical and can't possibly be identical is only going to frustrate you.

Consider: Why do you need to trust people in the same way you do in RL? In what way does that affect your ability to have amiable conversations with them, to play and host trivia, to create builds, and even to talk in a limited way about your personal life? Unless you plan to meet any of us (and I get the sense that you don't), an equivalent level of trust is irrelevant.

The conclusion that using multiple avatars is a practice in "manipulating" identity is yet another instance of failing to see that this is what virtual identity is. You don't need to take advantage of it in order to live a virtual life, but becoming huffy about those who do is like being upset that a Canadian 16-year-old visiting Spain goes out drinking. Just because she has to (legally) wait until she's 19 at home doesn't mean she can't take advantage of the more lenient restrictions elsewhere. Your view is similarly based on a cultural fallacy.

To wind this up, I need to reiterate that I'm not angry that you believe alts suck, since your reasons make it apparent that you haven't accepted some of the fundamental elements of what Second Life is. Not what it's meant to be or what it can be -- I'm not talking about fulfilling your creative potential by becoming a vampire or building a tower to nowhere -- but what it actually is and what it was when you signed up for your adamantly single, solitary account. This doesn't mean you don't belong here; everyone uses this space differently, and you've gotten by perfectly fine (as do the many other people who have reservations about alts), even with those of us who have alts, and you have friends and we like you. But just realize that by reading the real not just as a frame of reference but as a frame of proper conduct -- and, moreover, building an ethical argument out of it -- you're only going to create more aggravation for yourself.

Lette n'est pas un pipe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Please find a good job.

One of the best sources of humor in the world (at least for English speakers) is Japanese-to-English translations. All translations run the risk of unintentional comic effect ("Ich bin ein berliner") or public relations fail (the Chevy Nova/"no va"), but there is something about Japanese text when translated literally into English that has a particularly consistent amusement factor. I've played with the idea of having a "Japanese translation of the month" or something in my profile, but it's so trivial that this might be a better place for it. Just don't hold me to the "once a month" thing; I tend to come across translations during Bunny Hopper hunts more than at any other time.

So of course I stumbled upon this during the current Slice of Summer hunt: the notecard that I guess is supposed to explain the concept behind the Crayon Hunt taking place in mid-August. The first half is in Japanese, and here is the English translation:

Hunt Story crayon

One day, I love drawing to a white rabbit.

I can not find absolutely favorite crayon.

Ill-tempered black rabbit came there, I did.

"You do love crayon that I concealed. If you want it back,
The stylish looking! "
White Rabbit is a journey to find a crayon left in a hurry.

Please give everyone what they want to be important in the rabbit with a white crayon.

Good to help a child who is the treasure hidden in crayons as a reward.

Please find a good job.

Yeah. F'real. Just try to keep from giggling. I think the idea is that a black rabbit stole the white rabbit's favorite crayon, and you're supposed to help him find it. So go ahead and laugh: the evil black/good white thing is far more politically incorrect than a healthy guffaw will ever be anyway.

I imagine that English-to-Japanese translations must be just as hilarious, but we'd have to hear that from a Japanese speaker to know for sure. The languages are just so different that literal translation is simply impossible. Here is the homepage for the Crayon Hunt. Read it if you can, but I just put it through Google translator, and here's what it says we're looking at:

It did not notice on my blog a little cotton, FOTOKONTESUTO of air in this place in a shopping mall's forest planning and sound ^ ^

Planet of Datura in the fashion and fit to raise the SS
Location of course Planet of Datura!

Thank you TEKUSU 512X512 size is in square
Fill in the following sample application notes A note card and attach the texture FURUPA "Satoshi Inglewood" Please send

The applicant is only a one time
Is the use of props as well OK
Image processing is also OK

Conference Call for July 18 (Sat.) - Sunday, August 2
Popular vote August 8 (Sat) - Friday, August 21
Results Sunday, August 23

So if you're looking for a good fashion photo contest, look no further. I think.

But wait, there's more. There's fun with translation! Take some classic quotes from The Princess Bride:

- You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." But only slightly less well known is this: "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line."

- Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?
- If there are, we'll all be dead.
- No more rhymes now, I mean it.
- Anybody want a peanut?

- Inconceivable!
- You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

- Have fun storming the castle!
- Think it'll work?
- It would take a miracle.

- There is a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. 'Twould be a pity to damage yours.

Put the English through a translator into Japanese. Then copy the new translation and put it back through, from Japanese to English. Our results:

- One of the victims of the classic blunders. The most famous "land war in Asia never to be caught." However, for slightly less well known: "contrary to the line that never died in Sicily."

- Fezzik, the rock?

- If we are all dead.
- Song more than this, I mean it.
- Or peanuts?

- Imagination.

- You are using the word. And it means that I did not think it means.

- Have fun castle rush.
- I think that'll work.
- It takes a miracle.

- A shortage of perfect breasts in this world. You will damage it.

And those are PG quotes. Try it with smut some time.

Since I feel like most of the trivial stuff in this blog will end up going back to hunts, I thought I'd share one of my ensembles of stuff I've picked up from hunts. Everything is a hunt prize except for the shape.

skin - LionSkins (Peace on Earth Hunt)
hair & deely boppers - designs by katey (Passions Hunt - still in progress)
eyes - The Plastik (Slice of Summer Hunt - still in progress)
piercings - Seduction (Scarlet Letter Hunt... they're not too visible in the picture, but they're studs on the chin, upper lip, bridge of the nose, and eyebrows)
dress - Kerryth Tarantal Studio (Through the Looking Glass Hunt)
necklace - *ICED* (Through the Looking Glass Hunt)

Yeah, I'm doing the traditional type of picture and the traditional list now. :P I'm a blog whore!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Notes on Camp (not the kind you do for lindens)

As most people who know me are aware, I'm a big grid wide hunter. I've gone a bit overboard this month and need to cut back a bit, but I'll probably always have at least one hunt in progress as long as there's one taking place. I do use a lot of the stuff I find (I'm writing this now wearing a dress from the Bunny Hop, a necklace from Through the Looking Glass, and glasses I bought from a store I landed at on the Scarlet Letter hunt), I love the process of searching, and I even enjoy unpacking (and taking pictures of the results; click the link to my Flickr page at right). I also just like the chance to see a variety of places in SL and see the sorts of stuff the creative people here can put together.

Of course, not every store one lands at on a grid wide hunt is a fine example of virtual architecture or design. Some are dull, some are poorly textured and hard to look around in, and still others make you go, "wtf?" This post is about one of those. This one, to be specific:

This is a store that has shown up in several forms on several hunts I've done. This is just the latest. It's Riki Takaaki's Dreams Gallery (or something like that), which is a Christian store that thankfully gives out secular gifts in the hunts. But unlike other self-described Christian stores that participate in a lot of hunts, like AmberMyst Botanical Designs, Riki's Dreams sells Christian-themed merchandise and displays evangelical propaganda all over the grounds. I know a lot of other secular folks probably get annoyed that a place like this stands between the last hunt stop and the next hunt stop. I did, too, the first time I had to hunt there, but the prize was hard to find and the location at the time was laggy and I had a headache.

As of this last time through (for Through the Looking Glass and Fun in the Sun), however, I love the place and will look forward to when I get to hunt there in the future, and here's why: because Riki's Dreams has become one of the most wonderfully campy stores I've seen in SL. Jesus camp is one of my favorite kinds.

This appreciation for Jesus kitsch began years ago, when I went to my born-again Promise Keeper cousin's wedding. My father and most of his side of the family are Christians of various sorts, so I've been to my share of churches: Catholic, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, "Non-Denominational," and so on. But at this one -- Pentecostal, I think -- the decor was so over-the-top that I had trouble believing it was actually an aesthetic the church members took seriously. Huge, gaudy curtains and tapestries, looming images of Christ, colorful and ostentatious signs shouting bible verses at us.... And apparently they do take it seriously; there was nothing ironic about it. However, I knew this as a potentially campy aesthetic when I saw it. I decided momentarily that even though I'm a heathen, I wanted to become a collector of tacky Jesus art (or "art").

It really was only a momentary decision, though. I was a college student and a hoarder, and between being poor and already having too much stuff to move around, plus the fact that most people wouldn't get the irony, I decided not to do it. Besides, as much as I love camp, there's a problem inherent in it, which is that it's condescending. It's a parody. The use of camp, almost by definition, denigrates some group by satirization. It can be a gentle ribbing or a total slam or someplace in between (or a combination), and it can even be done by a group making light of themselves (think drag queens), but you're basically poking fun by viewing as ironic a symbol that is taken totally seriously in another context.

I hasten to add that I've never failed to take another person's religion seriously; this isn't about making fun of Riki's beliefs but about her taste, and not because she as an individual is a poor judge of appearance but precisely because within the context she's designing from, she probably isn't a poor judge at all. There is an entire aesthetic that emerges from this visually noisy attempt to work the Word of God into pretty much everything. Just visit a few stores listed on this page and you'll get the picture. Some simply sell Bibles and others, sappy, inspirational posters that are neither more nor less cheesy than their secular equivalents, but there are some gems in there, like Heavenly Images, which "creates custom memorial photos for loved ones and pets with Jesus in the picture," and Jesus Laughing, which "features Ralph Kozak's print of Jesus Laughing on witness wear, postcards, and framed prints," the same picture on every single item. Oh, and if you missed it, there's an additional example of Jesus kitsch right there: "witness wear."

The imagery attached to this particular set of denominations of Christianity, I'm sorry, is just begging to be seen as camp. I'm not the only one who thinks so, as the author of the article 20 Tacky Religious Products Guaranteed to Anger God would probably attest. Not all Christian stores give off this camp aesthetic, I should add. The Bedtime Treasures hunt brought me to AngelZ Christian Art just today, and though it was brimming with sap, it was tasteful sap. Christian imagery does not automatically equal tacky, so I'd be interested to understand why so much of it just is and whether purveyors of the tacky stuff are aware that they have no taste or whether they're like collectors of velvet Elvises, who are completely cognizant and enjoy their possessions all the more for their over-the-top-ness.

I am also entertained by the fact that the tacky Jesus art is replicated in SL. I'm not surprised by it; there's plenty of tackiness here, and a lot of it -- like bling and clicking shoes -- even permeates SL's mainstream. But entertained I am and will continue to be, every time a hunt sends me in the direction of Riki's Dreams.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New blog setup... please click "Trivia" tab for trivia posts

So... sorry to throw you all a curve ball so soon, but a friend who is also a professional blogger recommended using a trivia-specific URL for the trivia stuff and using the self-titled page for, well, the trivial stuff. Seemed to make sense to me. So now http://sltrivia.blogspot.com and http://letteponnier.blogspot.com are separated by a thin line. You can access each through the other; just click the tab above to switch over. If you come to the Lette site, though, expect to find most content on the trivia side of things. I'll get all trivial and stuff soon enough. For now, please head over and add your voice to our first discussion topic: Googling in trivia. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

News: [MonoChrome] Grand Opening

Ten days old and already boasting a following of colorful (and colourful) characters, [MonoChrome] (the brackets are part of the name) is the brainchild of Jez Oh, Sinnamon Sands, and Mandy Ash, late of the recently departed Club Cherri Red. The lounge that has sprung up in the wake of Cherri Red's closure is a different sort of hang-out spot entirely. As Jez puts it, [MonoChrome] is meant to be not about lights and noise and dancers but about the people who attend the events. "We provide the canvas, you provide the color," reads their tag line. From what I've been able to see so far, however, the gray-pallet [MonoChrome] generates plenty of color from within, as well.

Although Sinn hosted a well-attended inaugural trivia event two weekends ago, the official grand opening will take place this Saturday, May 9. [MonoChrome]'s management plans to host not only trivia but also live music in the space as the club develops. Appropriately, Saturday's schedule thus includes a sandwiching of trivia in between two live acts. Folk/pop soloist AM Moonites kicks the event off at 1:00pm SLT, while singer/songwriter AMFORTE Clarity caps it by performing at 3:00. Sinn takes the stage between 2:00 and 3:00 for a helping of her Survey Says game.

Jez Oh

For those new to this format, Survey Says echoes the long-running game show Family Feud, which asks contestants to guess survey results about topics such as "Foods that are blue" or "Things you don't want to break while you're using them." In the Second Life version, Sinn announces the category, and players spam the chat with answers for sixty seconds. Once she calls time, she sifts through the spam to find the players who guessed each of the survey answers first. Winners receive linden dollars equivalent to the number of respondents who gave each answer. The categories and answers are taken from the show itself, which provides an interesting variety of questions, as the program has been running almost continuously since 1976.

Those who have already visited [MonoChrome] probably don't need me to urge them to come again. Those who haven't should put the Grand Opening event on their calendars for Saturday. Some of the lounge's finer details seem to have gone over well with its early patrons. Most importantly, the building -- a fully enclosed skybox that is nonetheless claustrophobe-friendly on account of its multi-tiered architecture -- was designed with lag minimization in mind. While shooting photos in the space, I turned my graphics up to Ultra and found the camera movement to remain completely lag-free. Whether this will be true with forty avatars on the premises is yet to be determined, but the color schemers have certainly done the best they can.

Sinnamon Sands

Less commonplace than an effort to curb lag is their effort to curb chat spam as well. At [MonoChrome], they "promise not to spam you with notecards and landmarks and group invites upon your arrival," but in return, they also ask patrons "not to spam us and your fellow guests with noisy or text-intensive ASCII gestures" (according to a draft of the club's Statement of Principles). Brief gestures are tolerated in moderation, but this request to keep the communication channels relatively free of canned sound files and excess textiness is consistent with [MonoChrome]'s goal to focus on the character of the people, who are trusted to provide a "higher level of discourse" without the assistance of semi-automated and repetitive gesturing.

If the events that have already taken place at [MonoChrome] are any indication, an afternoon of trivia can be upbeat and sociable on the basis of the company and their wit and conversation. In the future, the staff at the club plan to host more parties and live music events, as well as a broader range of trivia games. Jez will still DJ with with fabulous cover song playlists. This weekend's lineup should provide a good sampling, so try to find a moment to drop in and check it out.

=> Time: Saturday, May 9, 1:00-4:00pm SLT
1:00-2:00pm AM Moonites performs
2:00-3:00pm Survey Says trivia
3:00-4:00pm AMFORTE Clarity performs
=> Location: [MonoChrome], http://slurl.com/secondlife/Dysis%20Isle/118/28/757
=> Host: Sinnamon Sands
=> Prizes: Eight questions, L$100 available for each, divided among multiple winners

Monday, May 4, 2009

Event Profile: Armada Breakaway

One of the newer games to hit the Second Life trivia circuit is Mako Kungfu's short but sweet weekly event in the fabulous steampunk sim of Armada Breakaway. The sim itself is rather new, opened just over two months ago. A floating city based on the novels of author China Mieville, it is a roleplay sim welcome to any and all types of SL citizens, RPers and non-RPers alike. Native to the environment are mermaids, street urchins, pirate-looking folks, and at least one arachnid. Stores such as Grim Bros, Viv Trafalgar Outfitters, and ZAiGear skirt the walkways, and the organizers host a range of events friendly to visitors, including burlesque, discussion groups, synchronized mer-swimming, and of course trivia.

Me, Posableman, Rach, and Chadd

Armadans approached Mako to host themed trivia in the sim (his sky capsule store, Atomic Owl, is there), and the games have so far attracted a mix of people who hear about it through Armada and through trivia sources. The questions are written to be relevant to the sim's themes but are always accessible to others. For instance:

[17:28] Mako Kungfu: 4. Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. Competitive swimmers keep their hair in place by "knoxing" it with this edible translucent substance, found in wobbly desserts, trifles, marshmallows and confectioneries like Peeps and gummi bears.

[17:45] Mako Kungfu: 8. In Mieville's novels, the Vodyanoi are a fat and froglike race of water magicians who can fashion temporarily-solid objects (such as walls) out of water. They are based on the Vodyanoi of Slavic mythology, male water spirits who occasionally get angry and break dams, cause floods and drown victims... and who may give you a fish if you drop a pinch of a certain substance into the water. This substance comes from the dried leaves of plants in the genus Nicotana and can be smoked, chewed and sniffed. Name it.

[17:47] Mako Kungfu: 9. The word aeronautics comes from the Greek "aero" (air or sky) and "nautis" (sailor). For much of his life, this Renaissance icon was fascinated by the phenomenon of flight, and was one of the first modern Europeans to study aeronautics. He published a Codex on the Flight of Birds and designed flying machines like his famous helicopter and a light hang glider. Name him.

(answers at the bottom of the blog)

Lengthy questions like these aren't usually ideal for fastest-answer trivia because they advantage those who either speed-read or are most accustomed to the format of the questions and know which parts to skim, and newer players are likely to grow frustrated. They seem necessary for this context, though, so that they provide both steampunk/period relevance and a means of answering for those who aren't familiar with the Mieville mythology. They're also well-written enough that I usually return to read them more thoroughly after zipping through an answer. Mako's questions and explanations of the answers are among the most thorough and informative around. You can't leave without learning something new, and a few of the people who come who aren't regulars at other trivia events still seem to do fine.

Mako and sheep

The setting is a little park, one of the very urban Armada's only pastoral spaces. Sheep roam and sometimes find someone to cling to. Jazzy, bluesy, and old-time tunes come in on the audio stream. A few couches are set about, though most people seem to prefer standing. The tone is low-key, and the locals are friendly. Three weeks into it, though, it still feels like it's off the beaten path, perhaps because it sounds specialized, doesn't take place at an established trivia club, and conflicts with Double Standards. It's only one hour a week, though, to DS's 14+, and I've been able to get in an hour of the latter before heading over. If you like your trivia laid back and intellectual, don't let the unfamiliar territory discourage you. Throw on that Victorian dress or suit buried at the bottom of your inventory (or don't -- steampunk duds are optional) and swing by next Monday.

=> Time: Mondays, 5:00 to 6:00pm SLT
=> Place: Armada Breakaway, http://slurl.com/secondlife/Armada%20Breakaway/149/73/22
=> Host: Mako Kungfu
=> Prizes: Fifteen questions, at L$40 per question; bonuses also include gifts from local stores, including Grim Bros and ZAiGear

Answers to questions in the blog:
=> gelatin
=> tobacco
=> Da Vinci

Just your standard intro post

So it was sort of inevitable that I'd start a blog relating in some way to Second Life. Here I am, a little over a year old in SL time, and I'm more or less hooked. Further, I spend most of my SL time either playing trivia, planning trivia, hosting trivia, or hanging out with people I know from trivia. Trivia doesn't really get a lot of play in most of the SL blogs I've seen. There are blogs on current events, on politics, on fashion, on technology, on live music, on SL culture, on sightseeing, on art, and on and on and on. When people write about SL social life, they write about clubs, live music events, education, discussion groups, fashion shows, freebie hunts, and many other things, but there's nothing like the blogosphere to remind me of how small the SL trivia community is in comparison with the rest of the (virtual) world.

I tend to forget this because I can't imagine having a Second Life without trivia. It structures most of my time in SL, shaping my social life, funding my spending habits, and providing me with intellectual challenges (at its best) and good laughs and gossip (at its worst). The most interesting and brightest people I've met in SL are those I've met through trivia games. I've formed friendships and relationships along the way, whereas other domains of SL have rendered only light and passing acquaintanceships.

I wouldn't go so far as to call this little community a bubble: the edges are porous, and I myself spend plenty of time doing non-trivia things. But there is definitely a core of enthusiasts, as well as casual players, who might take an interest in a special place for announcements, commentary, profiles, pictures, and probably even trivia. I'm leaving comments open in case anyone else would like to have their say. We may be small, but we are mighty. Sometimes I think we're the best kept secret in SL. I don't mind letting the cat out of the bag. (That was not a joke about Rain.)

Currently posting from:

Double Standards: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Mayon/36/205/22