Friday, April 22, 2016

Bernie Sanders' Second Life Headquarters

By Bixyl Shuftan

While the manor of a certain candidate for the nomination for the Republican party for the US Presidency was making the news in late March and early April, there was another political-themed location in Second Life for a presidential candidate. This one was for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, whom spend most of his political career as an independent until joining the party to run for President. The headquarters is located in the Caspoli sim.

The location itself was originally a fairly simple design, consisting of a platform off the ground with signs all around praising the candidate and criticizing his opposition, both the other Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Republicans, as well as the super-rich. In one corner was a large teddy bear with glasses and white wig (teddy Bern?) with a couple smaller ones on it that one could click and get copies of. There were a few other freebies one could get, such as a campaign t-shirt, as well as donation boxes for both the Sanders campaign and the upkeep of the platform. In one corner was a large board with a sign saying "Bernie 2016" on the side facing out, and on the side facing in an illustration describing how Sanders would pay for his various proposals.

The headquarters is owned by Macaria Wind (Macwind Berns). Macaria in her profile described herself as "An old hippie wanna-be/pseudo geek enthralled with virtual worlds," saying she enjoyed dancing, going on Madpea adventures, shopping, and enjoyed living in a "hobbit house."  I asked her how this place came to be. She answered, "This has been my home for the past year or so. Last July 4th weekend I went to a Bernie rally and started making monthly donations - $5, you know, what I could afford. I wanted to do more and thought 'I've got this place in Second Life, and there have got to be Berniacs in SL. So why not set up a portion of my home as a donation spot?' So I started a group, bought a donation thermometer, and voila - headquarters. Several group members have donated gifts  and I made some. So far we have received 65 individual donations to the thermometer - I just made our sixth donation online this morning. I send out a notice each time we donate online." While we were talking, someone dropped in just long enough to make a donation, then ported out. As of March 26, they had donated a total of $104 US dollars.

Asking how long it had been up, Macaria told me, "I will guess 2-3 months. It was slow at first until I made that first announcement in the group after our first online donation." Asking about events, she told me, "A few of the group members and I have talked about getting some live musicians to play and fundraise that way, but we haven't held anything yet. It would be great to find a few musicians willing to donate an hour or so."

When I asked if they had any problem with harassment, Macaria answered, "Ah, what would Second Life be without griefers? Last week I had to ban two avs. I came on one morning and there were massive Trump signs everywhere, floating around. I had to eject them from the group and ban them from the land - and delete their objects of course. I knew it was a possibility but I'd rather trust now, ban later if needed." She then laughed, "Of course now that I've said that ... but, we will think positively, yes?"

"I sometimes wonder what Bernie would think if he knew we are here in Second Life rooting for him," she mused, "I think he would chuckle and say 'That's YUUUUUGE!' ... Like he says, TOGETHER we can win! and begin to make positive change in our world - I think he is the perfect leader for that."

Asking her what her plans were, "Once we win the nomination? We'll continue to raise funds for the general election. Once he's elected I am hoping we can have regular meetings about his policies and to discuss how we can help him accomplish his plans. It won't be easy, but, together, we can do it. We NEED positive change."

She soon concluded, "The group is open for anyone to join and all receipts are posted in the corner over there whenever a donation is made. I just want to be sure readers understand this is a GROUP EFFORT - so many have donated gifts and lindens - even all the textures are from various group members - This is a wonderful GROUP effort - I just want to make sure everyone knows that."

Later on, a computer glitch resulted in the pictures I took vanishing. I returned to take more, but Macaria was not around. She told me over an IM not to worry about it, saying the group should be the focus, not her.

The headquarters was originally at Caspoli (127/33/34), but when I was writing about the headquarters some time had passed, so I dropped in to look to see if anything had changed. Indeed it had. The platform was mostly bare, with signs pointing out directions to the new headquarters. This one was more detailed, built like an open air Greco-Roman pavilion, with campaign and US flags. There was a table with more freebies, including rotating signs and cups with drink animations, as well as the bears. not far away was a theater with seats and a depiction of the Oval Office under a Sanders administration, with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. looking over the Presidential desk, which had the plaque "A Future We Can Believe In."

Caspoli (45/37/46)

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


By Grey Lupindo

Tucked away on Nantucket Island is a build depicting the movie set of “Casablanca,” one of the most romantic movies ever made.   Go to Pelican Point at Nantucket, Nantucket Island (126, 112, 2011) to check it out.  SL Casablanca was created by Sommer Shepherd, who owns the sim, and TracyLynn Carpenter. 

 I chatted with Sommer Shepherd about Casablanca, which has been here for a few months.  “It started out as Rick’s Cafe Ameracain,” she said, “as a venue for a friend’s Engagement party. ....kind of grew to what you see... all before the party!”   Sommer said the site has received a lot of attention, which she said is very flattering.  It is currently one of the Editor’s Picks in the Destination Guide, which is how I found it. 
You can view this site as the movie set for one of Bogart’s best films.  There are tents, director chairs, movie cameras and other items behind the buildings. Only the flags have been altered to reflect a less menacing, hateful world.  This alteration is much appreciated and more appropriate for SL in this reporter’s opinion.  But my favorite way to experience Casablanca is to go as a time traveler visiting Morocco circa 1940.  The U.S. has not yet entered World War II, and Rick’s Cafe is run by an ex-pat trying to escape the chaos of the world and his private life.

As you enter Casablanca you see vintage cars lining the streets and palm trees swaying in the desert breeze.  Rick’s Cafe is lavishly decorated with potted palms, bead curtains, and a lively bar scene.  There are lots of rooms to explore and a fine restaurant to enjoy.    There are game tables, too, but I didn’t come to gamble.  I came to find Rick and, if I was lucky, priceless letters of transit.

I started in the bar, which is well stocked and filled with interesting characters.   The famous piano is here, too.  I didn’t see Louis Armstrong while I was visiting, but Sommer gave me a vintage radio that has him playing “As Time Goes By”.  A perfect souvenir of Casablanca.

 Upstairs has more places to explore.  Rick’s office has a number of surprises you won’t want to miss.  Although I didn’t find Rick there, I did find someone else who was searching for letters.  The view from the upstairs balcony is wonderfully detailed.  You can almost smell the camels.  There are also a few private alcoves here where you could meet a friend and enjoy a drink.  I recommend the cognac.  Rick has a great vintage that you can help yourself to upstairs.   

Of course no depiction of Casablanca would be complete without the airport.  Outside the walls of the city the plane is waiting, ready to take off as soon as its important passengers board.       

Casablanca is one of those places you can visit quickly or linger at with a friend.   Even if you aren’t familiar with the movie, you can enjoy the site’s creativity and beauty.  If you know and love the movie as much as I do, you’ll love the world that Sommer Shepherd and TracyLynn Carpenter have created.  

Grey Lupindo

Monday, April 11, 2016

Forest of Dreams

By Gemma Cleanslate

“Step into my dreamworld and I will show you what my happy place looks like...... A world straight out of a fairytale where you can find magical creatures around every corner. A haven for  those who look for a tranquil environment, a home for fairies, fauns, elves and those who love to be lost in a dreamworld... Welcome!"
And so it is! This is the world of .ηєssα zαɱorα. (Noralie78 Resident), who does landscaping and terraforming in Second Life. I visited her winter sim, which offered so much winter beauty and fun for visitors that I spent a lot of  time there skating and roaming. Now her latest build is just filled with trees, flowers, waters and magical settings to explore and enjoy alone or with a lover or friend. Tiny fairies will greet you as you land and follow for a while.
There are so many places to dance or cuddle in solitude (unless a nosy reporter comes by). Teleports offered to take you to various places, and I did take them. They are glowing rocks placed in each area for you to use. But then I walked the region along the paths through the trees, and through lots of foliage over hill and dale. Shafts of light focus your eyes on what you see. I passed deer and unicorns hidden in groves.
In one area I found quaint elven homes, much like the hobbits, built into the land. Inside it is cozy, with chairs made of branches, comfortable for elves who still use nature to surround themselves inside as well as out.
The Temple, almost hidden and built inside a rocky hill, is a place to listen and look and reflect. There are candles placed against the walls, drifting light shafts, and a rushing water fall, a place of peace. I found a boat and oars and took a quiet ride through the waterways that wander the sim passing resting areas and small gazebos scattered along the way. I climbed a long set of stone stairs that lead to ruins on a hill which gave a wonderful view of the region. Across a wooden bridge I found a meditation circle with soft musical sounds or relaxing tones that surround you and circles of soft light drift in the air. It is located high above the treetops.   
 The sim brought back memories of the lost Apollo sims that I used to enjoy so much, long gone. It is all enchanting and a delightful place to visit in spring . Put it on your list. It is all there for your pleasure.

Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Trump Manor

By Bixyl Shuftan

In real life news, one of the biggest stories is the campaign of billionaire and media personality Donald Trump for the nomination for the office of the President of the United States. Despite his complete lack of experience of any political office, or perhaps because of it, he catapulted into the lead in the polls, and then the delegate count. While he has been lambasted by many, he continues to enjoy the support of millions.

In Second Life, a few of Trump's supporters have made their presence known. Last fall, two Trump-themed locations were set up. Late last month, I heard about a "Trump Manor." After heading to Lionheart Ahadi where it was and talking a look, I contacted the owner, a JP Laszlo. She called herself a supporter of Trump for President, "and I run a humorous satirical political page to that effect entitled 'Donald Trump Thinks Your Waifu Is S**t' with over 6 thousand followers on Facebook," where she had posted some pictures of the place there, "We had wanted to do something political in Second Life for the election." Asking about the page's name, she explained, "It's just an anime in-joke about somebody's favorite female anime character, their crush, being s**t. Trump supporters on the political board of the image board 4chan started posting pics of anime girls in 'Make America Great Again' hats, and it sort of became a meme."

JP explained the Manor was based on the Mar-A-Lago house in Palm Beach Florida, which Trump owns, "I was going to rename the parcel Mira Largo ... all people seem to do nowadays is hang out here. ... Furries, lots of furries, I don't know why furries like Trump but a lot seem to." She had built the club, "a couple of months ago. The inspiration came from my return to Second Life. I have been off and on, but haven't had land for some years now, until my friend the estate manager here sold me this plot. I went shopping for a house and saw this villa. I had to have it. It was 6k Lindens, which isn't the most expensive house I've ever bought, but it is just right for a plot this size. I said to my friend, 'Well I have a house in Second Life again, and we have an election going on. How about a lawn sign?' One thing lead to another. Now I have about eight of the things, two flag poles, and a Trump themed patrol car (laughter)." Besides the American flag, the flag of Ireland also flies at the Trump Manoe. JP explained, "I am of Irish heritage (smile)."

JP had to add my name to a security system, which had gotten the attention of Hamlet Au when he entered the place. When I brought up his article, she reminded me the place was not a truly public area, but a private location she invited friends and certain others to, but didn't want harassment on them or her, "we've had some issues with various miscreant protesters. Eh, it's just like real life? ... but seriously, we've had griefers here, and even people just poking around without permission because of the Trump signs. First and foremost, this is my private residence for my two avatars. And having people wandering in, as is the nature of living on an open sim, the orb is needed."

She felt in some ways, the griefers were a reflection of how some were treating Trump's campaign for office in real life, "I also find that Trump has been misrepresented and quoted out of context so much, that its now acceptable for leftists to say things like 'Donald Trump is a racist,' and people just nod like sheep without actually looking into it. Trump has not said a single racist thing. All he has said is we need a border wall (and) the people who are getting over there by and large are not the sort of people we want, drugs, criminals of various flavors, and he has stated that refugee status should not be given to Muslims until we know a way to vet people properly before they come into the country. That is not racism. That is common sense. Being against illegal immigration is not racist. Trump loves Latinos. Just not illegals. There are proper ways to legally enter the country and do things right. Entering illegal degrades the people who enter correctly."

Of her plans for the future, "Things will move forward and we are going to set up a campaign HQ." JP stated she had some spare land. " ... We are going to put an auditorium or a stadium, we haven't decided, we are looking at builds. ... I'm reaching out to people for the spring/summer so we can campaign here in Second Life for Trump, and if they want to contact me just to send me a message. It's gonna be a busy year. (smile)"

So according to JP, there should be one more Trump-themed build in the near future, this time a public campaign HQ. No doubt it will be the subject of conversation as the candidate remains in the lead in delegates for the Republic nomination. How much the real-life election makes it's way into Second Life remains to be seen.

Lionheart Ahadi (71/38/29)

Addition: Later on, this article would be referenced by New World Notes , Kotaku., and

Bixyl Shuftan