log (2007/06/29 to 2007/07/05)

Girl Dale, 4 July 2007

Continuing the evolution of the avatar, here is the Girl Dale of Independence Day 2007, with sparkler and patriotic flag-texture head-particle, standing outside the shack that I'm renting in the PIER sim (thought it would be fun to have a roof over my head for a bit).

Have to get a good current snapshot of that boring boy AV sometime too. *8)

(I also put up a red-white-and-blue version of the New Year's fireworks over my shack, just for fun. No complaints from the neighbors!)

Speaking of red, white, and blue, I'm currently beswoggled with respect to who might be President of the United States of America next. The current leading contenders appear to be:

  • a woman (which would be cool, but I would tend to bet that the USAian electorate isn't ready to do that yet),
  • a black man (which would be cool, but I would tend to bet that the USAian electorate isn't ready to do that yet),
  • a Mormon (about which I have no opinion in general, but which apparently a significant number of voters consider not only the wrong religion, but an actual heresy), and
  • a former mayor of New York City (and last time I looked the country as a whole didn't feel too comfortable being represented by NYC).

(The fourth of those is perhaps sort of mild compared to the first three; I expect that for completeness Rudy will shortly announce that he's a Gay American.)

So it looks like I'll be surprised whatever happens: either someone besides one of those four will win, which would be surprising, or one of those four will win, which would be surprising.

NPR this morning had an interview with some very well-spoken guy who leads a group that is very concerned about "securing the borders". He obviously loved this phrase, and I found it annoyingly disingenuous.

Of course everyone wants to secure the borders; no invading armies should be able to march in, and given recent events no lunatics with explosives strapped around their waists should be able to get in either. But the measures that this guy and his friends advocate are actually aimed at keeping out people who want to come in and earn a living without filling out the proper forms; it's not clear to me that most people are all that worried about this sense of "securing the borders".

Let's visit our ideal collectivist and libertarian states, which we've neglected for some number of months or years, and see what they do about Immigration, legal and illegal and all.

In our ideal collectivist state, the local Committee knows who lives where and who works where, so no illegal workers are going to sneak in. Any that are found are escorted to the border, or imprisoned, or whatever. Anyone from some other place that wants to join the collective can fill out the forms and apply, and if (and only if) the computer models and so on decide that having them would be better than not having them, they are brought in and given a place to live and a job to do. Simple!

In our ideal libertarian state, there are of course no government social programs to worry about freeloaders on, so that's not an argument against free immigration. The state does provide some very basic police function (probably, heh heh); should it be possible to get the protection of that police function by simply moving into the appropriate area? This is okay as long as moving into that area also causes you to have to pay your proportionate share of the costs of the minimal government. Since I don't think we've quite figured out how that works, we can just blithely assume that it does. So probably there is no problem with illegal immigration (there being no immigration laws), and legal immigration is just fine too (as long as the immigrants, like everyone else, pay their contract surcharges or whatever it is that pays for the police force).

As usual, that was pretty easy. *8) Working with nonexistant ideal systems is so much easier than working with reality.

(And here we've come full circle back to Second Life and WoW (in which, you'll be happy to hear, lil Spennix is now 25th level, well on her way to 26th).)

So I was thinking of posting a big backdated entry about last week, in the tradition of previous Anniversary issues, but the hitch is that, although we did go to Maine for a week an' eat Lobster an' all, it's too early in the year to say Happy Anniversary yet.

So I'll just leave out the backdated entry, and you can imagine me sleeping in, eating lobster, and so on, without an official marker in place to make it official. *8)

For various logistic and psychological reasons, it was just the four of us this year, no relatives. We had a very nice house more or less right on Boothbay Harbor, surrounded on three sides by the parking lot of the Lobster Dock Restaurant, which is a v nice seafood place. This had the great advantage that we could eat there really conveniently (including phoning them up and having our takeout hand-delivered). It had the at least minor disadvantage of being surrounded on three sides by parking lot, with the obvious implications about noise, lack of nearby grass an' trees on those sides (the fourth side has a teeny lawn and then the street), and so on. But all in all it was nice.

Mostly we just slept in, ate ice cream, and were lazy. The little daughter and I went and visited Bowdoin (pronounced "boh-dn") College one of the days. That was extremely cool; I wouldn't at all mind her going there, and I think she was positively impressed too. We'll be (somehow!) visiting more colleges this summer, so she gets a good idea of what's out there.

Me and the kids also went to Popham Beach one day (chilly but fun; M isn't really a Beach Person, so she stayed back in town), and one morning I snuck out early and took the Balmy Days harbor tour out to Squirrel Island and back on the Novelty, because I had to get out on the water somehow at least once. (The other year we went all the way out to Monhegan Island on the all-day trip; I thought that was great then but this year we were too lazy.)

Totally by accident we were there for Windjammer Days, when some extra ships, some with big impressive sails and some with big impressive guided missles, come and hang out in the harbor, and there are various raffles and musical groups and sales and craft fairs and stuff. And on I forget exactly which night there were also fireworks over the Bay, which was especially fun because we could sit on the upstairs balcony of the rental house and have a great view of them.

Spent a bit of time in Second Life while up there, mostly just lolling about. Left the World of Warcraft computer at home (it not being very portable), so was eager to get back to monster-battling when we got back yesterday. *8) Spennix is about halfway between level 24 and 25; woot!

This summer's Maine trip was more about pleasant lethargy than about deep contemplation or listening to the waves at midnight (if one were to read back over the last eight (eight?) years of these Maine entries that might well turn out to be a trend).

Need to do more of that "deep contemplation and listening to the waves at midnight" stuff...

On taking pictures in WoW, reader Ben writes:

You can turn off UI artifacts with the command ALT+z. This is extremely handy for taking screen shots

The "overexposed" effect you're seeing is what World of Warcraft calls Main Menu -> Video Options -> Full Screen Glow. The amount of "glow" you get in the game is dependent on where in the game world you are. Where the game designers wanted an enchanted setting they cranked up the glow (like in the elven city of Darnassus your picture is from), and where they wanted it to seem dark and dreary they turned it down (like the undead starting land of Tirisfal Glades).

Given the number of WoW players out there, odds are someone has already given you this information, but you never know.

You were the first! *8) tyvm.

I finished and wrote about a book while up in Maine: City at World's End. Fun, comfortable.

(I also bought or otherwise acquired more books than I should have: bought five for ten cents each at the Boothbay Harbor Library Used Books barn, and took two free ones at Travelers on the way back.)

Steve points out a rather clueless piece in which poor David Gelernter notices that it's hard to see how a computer wired in a certain way could have consciousness, while apparently overlooking the face that it's just as hard to see how a bunch of neurons wired in a certain way could (and thus spends alot of words to no real purpose).

A fun demo of what Second Life was like a Long Time Ago.

And speaking of Steve and SL, Steve points out this slideshow of real people and their avatars in various games including Second Life.

From the little daughter, The Impossible Quiz. Very silly, fun, potentially addictive. (I'm currently on the "End of the World" one; question fifty-something I think.) Note that there is at least one youtube video of someone solving it; whee!

And finally we note with pleasure the at least momentary return of spam poetry to our inbox; these subject lines arrived in just this order:

Largely upon incident it
Favorably is there
At his daily labor he
in the history
A moment of fury

In the history, a moment of fury.