Monday, June 29, 2009

Facts not 'smoke' about Australian 'Ban'

Poppy Zabelin, Chair of the International Relations Committee of Relay for Life of Second Life, writes:

Like many others we’ve been concerned about the rumors out there that Second Life is being banned in Australia.
Relay for Life of Second Life is INTERNATIONAL and we would have grave concerns about Second Lifers in any country being excluded from Relay, not to mention the wider ramifications.
The source of the confusion appears to be a story published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Basically, selected ISP's are trialling a scheme to block access to adult content games.
An internet critic is quoted as saying 'the move to extend the filtering to computer games would place a cloud over online-only games such as World of Warcraft and Second Life, which aren't classified in Australia due to their online nature.
' Now, a ‘cloud’ is NOT the same as an outright ban, although some sources are now saying it IS. The Metaverse Journal responded on June 25 in an open letter to Senator Conroy objecting to the ban, and the Australian Christian Today wrote on Monday June 29 that ‘It was confirmed by Australian Minister for Censorship that online games such as Second Life is banned in the country.
These have been picked up by hundreds of blogs and forums around the world.
There is nothing like checking the facts first.
So Ember Farina, Australian ‘Ambassador’ for RFL of SL and Team Captain of the Friends Fighting Cancer RFL of SL team, who in real life is an Australian firefighter, contacted the office of the Senator in question and spoke with an associate there, and says:
‘It appears to be something related to GAME ratings. SL is not classified as a game at this stage. IF there was a complaint received in the future to the Gaming Commission then it would be addressed but his associate seemed fairly comfortable that it's not an issue in this circumstance.’
Ember went on to say:
‘I asked the Senator's associate if there was anything in writing to support this but there wasn't. As far as the Senator's associate was concerned this only came to light because a newspaper article jumped on it - SL was never mentioned nor targetted by the Senator.’

Linden Labs have yet to comment officially, but the whole thing seems to be a misinterpretation of the Australian government’s ongoing censorship/filtering scheme trying to block extreme violence games and child pornography.

Editors note: Since writing this and sending to us Ms Zabelin has heard from Linden Lab;

From:Peter Gray (Pete Linden)
Hi Poppy,

As far as an official Linden Lab statement on the issue, we can currently confirm that: We have received no indication from the Australian government that it intends to block Second Life.

I hope this is useful.


Talking it over with an Australian friend this morning she expressed surprise at the idea since she did not consider secondlife a 'game' and also told me that the government is considered fairly progressive.
To me it comes across as chinese whispers that have got way out of hand without due cause and of course without all the facts.
Irresponsible reporting can cause a lot of damage and this story could actually cause the senator to look more closely at secondlife now the media storm has started.
Many thanks to Poppy Zabelin for getting the facts on this story and allowing us to publish it here.

Dana Vanmoer


Poppy's Blog:

Sydney Morning Herald


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Memorials to Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett

Thursday June 25 saw the deaths of two famous performers in the US, Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. In real life, people expressed their sorrow for their departures. And in Second Life, people did so by erecting memorials to them.

Of the memorials to Michael Jackson, probably the best one was in the Paradise Plantation sim. It had a pagoda, a number of pictures, notably of the singer throughout his career, and numerous flowers and candles. Above it was a circle of pictures that had flowers emitting from it a short distance.

Talking to one of the people at the sim, the large memorial had small beginnings, “... tried to find a memorial, and couldn’t the night he, passed. So we cleared the beach, and put a rose on the stand. Um, and that, *points* happened.” Others had added their own items to that lone stop-animation rose until it had grown to what we saw. People were still placing items there. He went on to say, “Here in Colorado, when a tragedy happens, everyone joins together and makes a big memorial.” When someone thanked him for building the memorial, he answered, “No, YOU did.”

The memorial is at (25, 243, 21) in the Paradise Plantation sim. I was told the sim was being used as a nude beach, though those not wearing much were some distance away and when walking near the memorial usually put their pants back on.

Farrah Fawcett’s passing after a long struggle with cancer did not make the news as big as Michael Jackson’s sudden heart attack. This may be why there were fewer memorials. I was told about one by a friend in the “caLLiefornia” sim, and it was at (165, 156, 25 ). There were a few pictures of the 70’s actress, and a number of candles. People can still put flowers, candles, and other items there. The sim has another memorial, one to Michael Jackson, not far away.

Rest in Peace

Bixyl Shuftan

Source: Cait's Finds in Second Life

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Demonstration in Second Life Supporting Iranian Protesters

On Thursday June 25th, a number of people in Second Life in support of the protesters in Iran, whom have been speaking out against rigged elections despite the violent crackdown resulting in arrests and deaths. At 2 PM and 7 PM SL time, people gathered at the Palais Orleans Art Studio in the Roissy sim, many from the “Support Iran” group. A few held signs with raised fists on one side, and a picture of Neda, whom has become a symbol of the protests, on the other. The signs could be picked up in the Studio, along with memorial candles. The studio displayed pictured of Neda and the protests, and the people also passed around a green armband with a broken heart symbol. There were also “I am Neda” shirts.

One person at the first demonstration thought thirty to forty people showed up, some arriving a little late and some needing to go early, “We had a good turnout.” The second was smaller in number, but no less determined to make a point. There was also a security guard from the Justice League to keep any possible griefers away.

People were invited to make comments and give news they might have heard. Rene Grigorovich used voice instead of typing to make his point, “All these people are asking is for a free and honest election as is guaranteed by the constitution. .. the regime is absolutely bestial in how they treat the opposition. ... I would ask you all to keep these people in your prayers. ... thank you.”

There was one Iranian among the people in the second gathering, “I’m Iranian,” Melody Rosca told everyone. She was living outside the country. When asked how well Iranians could use the net, she answered, “I know that Internet connections have been next to nothing for the past day. I know that cell phones are shut off after 5 PM.” When asked if any SL resident in Iran could still get on, she answered, “All I know is that those I know are having lots of difficulty getting online and transferring information.” At another point, she spoke, “... it is extremely important for us, all of us, to remain aware. Knowledge is always power, and it’s no different in this turmoil.”

Thursday 25th was also the day singer Michael Jackson passed away, leaving some to wonder if the media coverage might distract the attention of the American public. Melody commented, “I’m afraid that just because there wasn’t as much news today, or perhaps tomorrow, or even a week from now, everyone will forget and just assume it’s over.“

The group talked about the role of Internet blogs and Twitter in helping the protesters get images and information outside the country. However, some described the theocracy as making it harder for the people to communicate with the outside world. Melody told, “... information is being filtered much more drastically than a week ago.” Someone else mentioned satellite dishes were being confiscated.

One man had a story to tell, “I have a personal stake in the protests. I’m in love with an Iranian woman. I don’t know if she’s alive or dead. ... I have not spoken to her since last October, when she told me she asked her father for permission to marry me. ... She and I had many low-level arguments concerning her government. At first, she thought I believed all Iranians were fanatics. Then when she realized I made the distinction between her government and the people, she still insisted that I was wrong, that is was not like that in Iran. She honestly believed Iran was a free country, and that her government would not actively harm her. It took her several years to begin seeing the truth.”

“When she told her father that we wanted to marry, he confirmed all that I had said to her and more. She broke off contact after one final conversation. We talked on the phone for hours that last night. ... If a pro-government militia ever found out she was in love with me, the girl whom got ******ed to death with a baseball bat would have been luckier. ... They’re chopping down protesters with axes and shooting them in the streets. What do you think they’ll do to a woman who’s in love with Iran’s proclaimed ‘Great Satan.’ ... My desert rose is much stronger than she thought she was. My greatest fear is she took to the streets. I decided within a few days of the election that if she called me, I’d be forced to say things I did not mean in order to convince any officials tapping her phone line that she no longer had any ties to America.”

Some were concerned, wondering at one point the possibility Iranian government agents were conducting searches in SL. Still, there was optimism, “It might take a generation ... but the Iranian people are seeing what their government is capable of now. The Iranian people overthrew the Shah and they will eventually overthrow the current butchers.”

Eventually, the vigil came to an end. People wished each other well, some vowing to continue. We were told the Art studio would keep the pictures of demonstrations and candles and signs, “for the foreseeable future.” Palais Orleans Art Studio and Designs is at the Roissy sim at (31, 58. 24).

“Freedom is worth dying for but dying is easy ask your selves is it worth losing everything for and possibly being tortured to death for? this is the question the brave freedom fighters of Iran have asked themselves. They said yes, and for that courage I stand with them.”

Bixy Shuftan