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Transhumanism and Falling Stars

This post is basically the result of some #CommuteThoughts.  It’s like Shower Thoughts, but it happens in the car when you’re not thinking of things like what to have for supper, or why the idiot in front of you can’t drive.

Recently I finished watching through the end of Season 4 of Babylon 5, and I was always fond of “Deconstruction of Falling Stars” – the season ending.  It would have made a decent series ending as well, if it had come to it(though I know they did already film “Sleeping in Light” in case it had been needed).

First, the ending scene with the sun going nova was supposedly only one million years later.  For that to happen that fast, something serious had to happen, and there was undoubtedly some sort of story there, even if it was never told.

Second, I like the fact that the guy who’s watching all the clips enters a very Vorlon-like encounter suit, but this one has a human shape despite some minor Vorlon stylings.  Given that fact, it makes you wonder if the Vorlon actually used to look like their suit before they went all energy-like-being on the universe.

Still, it brings up a point – not jsut in B5, but in most sci-fi, the more advanced races tend to turn into beings that appear to be pure energy, however little sense it makes.  It’s often framed in the device of evolution, of moving to a greater purpose.

Evolution is not that however – it is simply adaptations to new environments, and so on.  Turning into energy isn’t exactly a mutation that would happen in nature on its ownIt could make some kind of sense as an adaptation to space, but even then, stepping across that boundary and somehow allowing pure energy to exist as a cohesive organized whole is not something we see regularly in nature.

There is undeniably a spiritual underlaying to it as well.  The idea of the soul made manifest, leaving the flesh behind and expressing itself in its purest form.  These races are so advanced they do not need flesh to exist, and are able to manifest as pure soul. It is one way to look at it.

Another way however, if one were to take that destination shown in B5 as fact, is that it’s an expression of transhumanism, just taking a lot longer than some folks would wish.  Rather than some blind evolution or transformation imposed by nature and mutations, it’s a conscious choice made by a sapient species, leaving behind the restrictions of flesh to interact directly with existence.  No more need for hunger, sleep, or other biological functions(though some might still experience them as a matter of choice – after all, he did look like a normal human until we went to enter the suit).

The explosion of people questioning and challenging their own identity shows we are already starting to turn that direction – questioning what is human, and choosing our forms as much as we can, rather than letting them choose us.  A lot of folk do not understand this and deride it, or take it to extremes to strawman it.  There’s an element of humanity’s tribal tendencies as well, the “us vs them” and the driving out of those who do not fit the mold.

One example I came across recently was someone afraid that the new Star Trek series was going to be an over-the-top agenda-pushing show(ignoring the fact that Star Trek ahs always been about morality plays and “liberal” ideas since the beginning).  His example was that Picard would have come out as this multi-feathered tri-sexed impossible creature and all the “tumblrinas” would congratulate him on it.

Looking at it, I already see two concepts here that seem to be what really is pissing the guy off, or at least what he doesn’t understand(or even try to) and thus fears and mocks.

First, there’s an unspoken implication given the reference to “tumblrinas” that this is a way of saying “I’m better than you.”  Because he is not accepting the identity he was born with and selecting(either consciously, unconsciously, or spiritually) a more fitting self, and then parading it around, the troll, for lack of a better word, feels inferior because he is still the same, plain ordinary human, as much as anyone made of starstuff can be.

To be fair, there is a segment of folks out there who do view that their differing identity makes them superior to the common man.  THIS IS FALSE. A dragonkin’s life is as valuable as the family in Kentucky living out of a rusty RV and making a living skinning deer while cursing “dem immigrants” as evil.  It’s all life, and it is not what you are that makes you great, but how you live and treat your common sapients.  That does not mean that if they threaten to kill you you shouldn’t fight back, or that you have to tolerate their ideology, but it is the ideology that makes the difference, not the fact that one sees their true self as having scales and the other doesn’t see beyond the inside of the next beer can.

Which brings us to the second point I’ve seen personally, and by that I mean in-person: not understanding the questioning of self.

There is a person I know in meatspace that does not understand the point of transexuals. He’s fairly conservative, and has kids, so he’s particularly sensitive to the false depictions of perversion that certain parts of the media will revel in. He’s a great guy, but doesn’t seem to understand how one can question their identity.

To get more specific, I happen to sit outside his office so I overhear conversations all the time, and one that struck me was him and one of our more liberal-minded staff talking about the whole bathroom issue.  From there, it somehow came across the idea of white people considering themselves black, and that being equally as valid.  While I don’t remember the details, the impression I came away with is that he was very much seeing it as “what you are is what the world made you” and inability to accept that just did not make sense to him at all.

I think that’s the second route to these sorts of misunderstandings – the people in question do not grasp how identity can be a choice.  They think that when you draw your hand in life, it is wrong to call a mulligan and redraw.  In the previous skin-related example, maybe the theoretical skin-changer just feels more attractive that way, or is much more comfortable in the culture associated with that image – much as the way furry identity will tend to drift towards the animal that symbolically resonates with you the best.

(Side note: I have not brought up transhumanism with this guy yet, but plan to at some point, just to see how he responds to that idea.)

Now, that all said, to bring it back around I wouldn’t see Star Trek pulling that kind of thing.  First, Picard the character seems rather satisfied with the identity of what he is.  With holodeck technology and especially post-Voyager(for holoemitters) anyone would be able to more directly become anything they wish, at least part of the time.  Also, in Star Trek most of these sorts of things are not flaunted, but just accepted as they are.  A character does not come out as gay as some big event, they just happen to like men and approach them just as easily as a straight man might ask out a woman on a date. (which, for some, isn’t very easy!)

It all comes back to an inability to understand that leads to fear, and feelings of inferiority, due to the same or to some bad eggs that do try to cast others as inferior for not questioning themselves.

 

On one other note, coming back to the original topic of Babylon 5, what really is the point of organic technology?  The few times we see it in the series, it’s cast as this almost mystical ubertech that seems like it is the solution to everything.  But what have we actually seen or heard it do that makes it superior in any way to normal tech?

The biggest advantages depicted seem to be growth, self-repair, and self-direction.  Everything else is just a symptom of the big “black box” hiding the inner workings by throwing their hands up and declaring it was because it’s so incredibly advanced it’s not understandable(which, to be fair, can be a valid point too).

Self-direction can be accomplished by a sufficiently advanced AI, which does not rely on anything organic, so I’m going to set it aside for now.

Growth and self-repair on the other hand are basically two sides of the same coin.  Rather than replacing a burnt out circuit board, the ship could simply regrow the connections much as we regrow a cut in our skin.  Feed it the right materials and it can grow from a tiny starting point into a massively complicated machine – after all, in a way we’re just biological machines!

You could accomplish the same results with self-replicating nanomachines.  Actually, in a  sense, that’s what the cells that make us up are.  Still, it does not require what we would think of as organic to reproduce the same ideas and results.  Somewhere out there could be beings of pure nanomachines, created by a now-dead race.  Life just like ours, but with tiny specialized artificial machines replacing the naturally-created specialized cells constructing our bodies.  And rather than exchanging DNA, they could combine programming code, do a diff-merge, and produce new life from the new codebase introduced into their nanomachines.

Unless by organic technology you mean technology that acts like life does, not technology that works from the same cells etc that we do.  Then maybe you could say they did have a point.

Then again, food labeling itself as organic suggests that other food is inorganic, and I don’t see pasta as being made out of rock!

Blue Foxdragon LFM for Heroic Social

So, I’ve never had a ton of friends, but it’s not ever really bothered me either.  I actually tend to be fairly introverted, so most of my friends have come from more extroverted friends and family introducing me to them.  When those aren’t involved, I tend to revert to being a dragon ninja, when it comes to social situations around people I don’t know very well.

I’ll slip in quietly, listening to nearby conversation, and if it happens to hit upon something I can discuss or like to(or an opportunity for a bad pun comes up <..<) then I strike!  If the conversation drifts away towards something where I can’t contribute, then I’ll do the same, vanishing like smoke.

Anyways, my last local friends outside of work have now moved away, as of last week, putting me back where I was a few years ago, with a couple differences that are making me feel the difference more strongly than back then.

You see, for a while I was gaming with a group of people at one of our local comic and game stores, but then our GM had some personal issues and the game sessions came to an end.  At the time I was also playing World of Warcraft, so I ended up just staying at home most of the time, playing and socializing via that.  While I didn’t get out of the house much outside work, it wasn’t a huge issue as I was still getting my “people fix.”

After a couple years of that, I was feeling the itch for a tabletop RPG, and heard from my dad(who had also been playing with this group) that a few of the folks were starting it up again, but this time playing at their homes.  At the time, I was on a shifting schedule for work so I couldn’t make it half the time, and didn’t pursue it, but eventually that changed, and I was able to start playing with them again.

Over time we started doing other things as a group too, and during that time I dropped WoW, picked up STO for a while, then kinda dropped that too to focus on my marathon run through ALL the Pokemon games(and my computer not wanting to run STO under WINE). End result was basically most of my social needs being met by hanging with the local group instead, and it got me out of the house too!  Somewhere in there I also spent a good amount of time on Second Life for a while, until some events and life being busy led me to neglect it for a large amount of time.

Now, I don’t have any local event stuff I really go to at the moment, and I don’t have any MMOs I’m currently playing(in part due to WINE’s issues with DirectX11 and most MMOs I’m interested in using that now), leaving me coming home to not much to do and no one to really see.

On top of that, I’m at the point where I feel ready for a relationship again.  Usually after one ends, I’ve tended to stay single for a while after before even starting to look, and it’s been a couple years now. Unfortunately, I barely have anywhere to even look currently, because of the above.

End result? One lost and somewhat lonely dragon.

It doesn’t help either that most “mainstream” activities for meeting people are not things I’m into.  I don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t really dance, which leaves people introducing me to people, and online gatherings pretty much.

Unfortunately, I don’t know where to go for those either.  I’ve logged into SL recently, but I don’t know where to go anymore. The Isle of Wyrms has been fairly quiet the few times I popped in, Aggro has been empty, and I’m a bit big for Luskwood. (Never saw many convos of interest there the dew times I went either.)  Most of the other places I knew are gone, and I have no idea where I can find other dragons, or furs in general that would be welcoming to dragons.

I’ve also wanted to look for Telegram groups, but I don’t know where to look to find them, as I have very few other people I actively talk to on it right now, and the one index site I found doesn’t give me a real good idea for what some of them are like.

I’ve thrown up a couple profiles on Pounced and elsewhere too, but not a single response from any of them, and Pounced has historically not done much for me in general.

As for work?  Well back when the chlorine gas attack happened at MFF a couple years ago, people here were making bad furry jokes, so I don’t know that I’d feel comfortable letting my furry side out among them.  Not that I haven’t left a couple hints, but only one person has even sort-of caught it, and he’s not around anymore.

(To be fair, being able to be open about being dragon in RL has been a luxury I’ve only had the past couple years, as it turned out most of that group I mentioned before had furry tendencies to begin with, to my pleasant surprise.)

Anyways, if anyone knows where all the dergs are hanging these days, hit me up on Twitter.  I don’t really look for comments on here anymore, after so long of getting nothing but spam attempts.

Also open to any tabletop RPG gaming – with the group basically broken up for now, it doesn’t look like I’ll get to play Jasmine in an actual tabletop game anytime soon, and I don’t want to let the awesome art of her go to waste.

Remembrance of Days Gone By

So I was just reflecting on as of this year, I’ve basically been sporting scales for 10 years.  That’s almost a full third of my life right now, and probably half the time I’ve been around furry content overall – though 9-9.5 of the remaining time was spent as a fox.

That set me thinking of commissioning a new art piece(not the one posted above) to commemorate 10 years of scales – maybe something transformation-related, going from one form to the other.  Still, it might get complicated if I included my snep chakat ‘sona I ran with for several months also, and if I should include my Arctic Wyvern that brought everything to critical mass.

You see, back in 2007 I started poking my snout around an area in Second Life called the Isle of Wyrms – I may have mentioned it here before. I found out about it from some other furs at an area based around the DMFA webcomic(shameless plug – www.missmab.com – been reading it for years!) as they had a couple adult dragon avatars from there and were showing them off at Lost Lake.

Now back then, you could buy the hatchlings and the wyrmlings(think feral dragon equivalent of teenagers) at any time, but the full-size adults were only available four times a year – on the solstices and equinoxes, and even then in limited numbers.  Once you owned one, you could buy the rest at any time for customization, but you had to get that first spot at one of the hatching events.  The idea was to try and make it something more special than just buying an av because it looked cool.  These were DRAGONS, and deserved something more special.

Because I was curious, I ended picking up a Astral Wyrmling, as it felt the most dragonlike to me, and toyed around with it a bit.  I’m fairly sure I talked about this a long while ago on here, so I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice it to say I went to check my logs to see when I had first gotten the Arctic Wyvern and found it was actually exactly 10 years ago yesterday.

As I probably said then, and in a tweet-chain that triggered this blog post, the Wyrmling may have opened the door a crack, but it was the Wyvern egg that slammed it all the way open and broke off the hinges.

There was a certain magic in the air that day – we were the testbed for the random selection that was used up until the final hatchings, replacing the old “who can click fastest before the sim crashes” method.  I like to think of it as letting fate and luck take the wheel more directly, as the former relied on reaction speed as well as luck on if the server would acknowledge it before the sim crashed.

We were spread across two sims due to population limits as the drawing began. There was tension at first as individuals were called out – at least until someone noticed that if you checked your registration token, it could tell you if you were one of the winners or not already.  The current version of the Cathedral was not complete yet, but this was the first chance many of us got to see it, as the eggs were located there to keep things under control.

Once we had our eggs, it was off to the sandbox to hatch them, wear the avatars, and tweak them to our specifications.  This is where the magic I spoke of was most felt – the becoming of wing and scale, tooth and claw.  Leaning to move in something much larger, how it worked, and sharing the joy and celebration of our new forms with all the other newly grown Wyverns.  This was also the premiere release of the Wyverns, which added another element of specialness to the whole event.

It’s kind of sad that the days of the hatchings are behind us now.  As time wore on, the crowds began to shrink, and eggs began to go unclaimed, until the decision was made to set the tradition aside as the amount of unclaimed eggs up for adoption had effectively removed the distinction. Folks who arrive at the Isles now seeking a draconic perspective will never truly get to experience the tension of waiting to see if you were chosen, the wonder of walking down the rows of IoW elders standing ceremonial guard to claim their new egg, and the joy and celebration of becoming alongside their wingbrothers and wingsisters as they explore their new selves.

There was several factors though that led to this, and I don’t know that any one of them changing would have made a difference.

  • Daryth, as far as I am aware, has effectively moved on – no new dragon or other avatar designs or updates have been released in years.  For her, this was her art, more than anything else, and as every artist knows, the muse can be a fickle thing.
  • Other creators have harnessed deformations and mesh to create technically superior(whether they are aesthetically is up to the viewer) avatars that were available 24/7, and a majority of Second Life I’d say would prefer that instant purchase and gratification rather than waiting months for a chance at one that isn’t even a certain win.
  • While people come and go, once you had the adult you didn’t need to enter again.  This meant that every hatching shrunk the pool of prospective dragons, and eventually that pool would be small enough to cause this sort of effect as well.

So while it was probably inevitable, I am still glad I got to experience a IoW hatching before it ended, and thankful for it as it helped me find myself, so to speak. The Isle itself and the community is still around after 11 years, which is practically an eternity in SL time. While the sun is no longer blotted out with dragon wings, there are many hatchies and other folk waiting to welcome a stranger into their fold, or welcome back old friends who may wing back from time to time.

With how many places I have visited in SL that have come and gone, there is still a certain peace in knowing there is still a home to return to.

I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe.

Sims crashing like dominos from a runaway grey goo attack. I’ve seen entire furry continents rise, only to fade away.  Dragons, spreading their wings for the first time under the shadow of Cathedral. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.

Time to fly.

Trans is not a gender

Alright, I think some people may disagree with what I’m going to write here, but I came across a few characters that brought it to mind, and I feel the need to write/talk it out.  Since that’s what this blog is intended for, away I go!

There was a statement I recall hearing from some real transsexual folks a while back, about how a MtF who completed her transition was not a trans man, but a woman, and the same applies for the other direction.  From a Transformers board I follow which seems to ironically have a decent proportion of transsexual folk, they want to be seen as the gender they should be, not what they are, and that’s how they present themselves.  If they could snap their fingers and be 100% the gender they should be, they would be in a heartbeat, much like many otherkin would do if they could become their species. (Also ironically, otherkin still tend to be looked down on by transexual folk, despite the fact that unlike their situation, it’s more spiritual than physical.)

Then recently, I came across someone who was getting rid of some characters, and I took a peek cause the thumbnails looked interesting.  A couple of the characters in question were female in shape and body, but with male genitals, and their gender was labeled as trans.

Trans is not a gender.  The people I mentioned above, who have to deal with the situation in real life, would consider this sort of character an insult, and in fact I’ve seen similar reactions to some mainstream depictions of such people that take the same approach.

Now, they could be in the middle of transitioning, but the art and descriptions gave the impression that this was their natural selves, and they were satisfied with being where they were on the physical gender spectrum.  Basically, it’s being used as a more palatably-named version of the old concept of the “dickgirl”/”cuntboy” concept. (Which some trans folk also find offensive, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Nowadays, there is a wider spectrum recognized in the matter of gender, which reflects itself in furry fandom.  You’ve got genderfluid folk, who go back and forth, or folk who identify as neither.  It makes perfect sense to have people who may identify as somewhere in-between, whether a full herm(with breasts or without), a “dickgirl,” or a “cuntboy.”

Now fair enough, people may be confused on these, and said confusion may make them angry that someone is challenging them, or it may make them think the person is simply doing it as a cry for attention, instead of who they are.  There may even be a few for whom that is true. Also fair enough that the two latter terms have been used as insults in the trans community for long enough that it feels wrong to use the terms, but frankly I just don’t have anything better at the moment.  And that, my friends, is part of the problem.

How do you describe the gender of such folk? Stick to the well-used terms despite their negative connotation? Make up something else and piss off the “anti-snowflake” crowd further? Or just go the smartass route(my favorite) and say “Gender: Yes”?

Now some may point out that fursonas have an element of fantasy to them. Some may choose to have their fursona mirror their real-life progress, and that’s fine. And they may decide to stop halfway between like the examples above.  But at that point, if you do stop partway on purpose, you’ve finished your transition, even if the endpoint is not a “normal” endpoint.  You’re not trans, you’re something else.

And honestly, I guess this has turned into more of a rant than a discussion or whatever, and people can claim whatever labels they like, but someone calling themselves trans as a gender does a disservice to the actual transexuals who are in mid-transition, and intend to go all the way because that’s what they truly see themselves as.

Trans is not a gender.

That said, I’ll go back to my hidey-hole now until the next time I get a bug up my tail to write about something, or when I finally get around to another art post, as I have gotten a couple pieces, and have at least one more in the works.  But that’s for another day.

Chakat Thoughts

Chakat Swiftwind

‘Kats gonna ‘kat.

So I’d like to discuss this sexy piece of pinup art I got from @Inkrend recently.  (Side note:  This is the SFW version – my furry art galleries have the NSFW version.)

First a little bit of history.  Back when I was foxing around on Second Life, I got introduced to ‘taurs and found them somewhat fascinating.  Researching them led to the chakat universe, which took some of the basic concepts of Star Trek and re-spun them with a furry bent.

The chakat race is a race of feline hermaphrodite taurs, with a primarily female appearance, created by Bernard Doove a.k.a. Goldfur.  I believe this was among the first of the “original” furry species to really take off in popularity- which eventually led to others such as Sergals and Dutch Angel Dragons.

Anyways, I thought a bit about what I would be like if I was a chakat, and decided to actually create hir to “reserve” the character and name.  I ended up fully embracing hir for probably close to a year as my fursona, before awakening to dragonhood.

A bit over a year ago I revived hir to be a character in a story I had written, and establish a  place for hir in the chakat universe.  This led to a few more art pieces, which I’ve previously shared and a renewed personal interest in hir as a character.

While the previous art pieces I’ve gotten have been great, a minor pet peeve has been that they’ve never gotten hir bust size quite right.  Shi is supposed to have fairly large breasts, but none of hir depictions have really shown it well.  This one, on the other hand, does.

Another thing I like about this is that I get an impression of maleness as well, which is very fitting for a hermaphrodite in general, and hir in specific, as shi tends to lean more towards hir male side.  It may just be me, or it may not have been intentional, but combined with the fact it actually got hir bustline right this is the best depiction of hir yet!

This actually also inspired a re-evaluation as well of how I’ve been representing myself.  I know there are some that have multiple characters, while others have an identity tied to a single representation of themselves.  I myself fall into the latter category, with my dragon self being in all ways a reflection of my inner being.

Basically, I considered that if I had gotten this picture earlier, would it have made a difference?  At heart, I still believe that I am dragon, and after consideration, I don’t believe I have the right mindset to truly be a chakat, unlike some others I know out there.  Chakats are naturally polyamorous – they have multiple mates at any given time, and jealousy is something that is not natural to them.  As hermaphrodites, they are also naturally bi, though they may have individual preferences towards one side or the other, much as single-gendered folk have preferences for certain parts of the body.

As much as I could see the above art representing me, and with how aware I am of my feminine side, I unfortunately fit neither of those qualifications.  To start with, I had the opportunity to explore how I felt about both genders online by playing a herm, and male anatomy just doesn’t excite me.  Herms that I have found attractive have been mostly due to their female attributes.

Secondly, I am also definitely not polyamorous.  If I consider someone my mate, they are mine and I would not feel comfortable about them screwing other people – though to be fair this goes both ways.  I also would not feel comfortable screwing someone else while being in a relationship.  I don’t have any problem with open mateships in and of themselves; they’re just not for me.

Chakats are also fairly even-tempered.  While I can be in general, I’ve gotten rather angry at times.  My temper is overall far more draconic than it is chakat.

All that aside, I could see myself playing hir online again at some point, but ultimately shi is a much smaller aspect of my being than my dragon self, and barring being more active on Second Life again, there’s not much of an opportunity for me to do much besides write about hir or get art.  If the opportunity presents itself though, shi’s definitely on my short list, and I would love to be able to play hir in a Traveller campaign or something similar.

And I finally have a picture I can point to without qualifications and say “That’s hir!”

Future Imperfect – Cyberpunk is Now

Cyberdragon

So wow, been a while.  I meant to write this almost 6 months ago, but things came up and stuff was done, and I got distracted by other things site-related that I was considering doing first to the point I kept pushing this off.

Anyways, this was the other subject I referenced previously.  Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 20202, Neuromancer, and so on all painted a picture of a world wrapped up in cybernetics and wires, where man had enhanced himself with computers.  Nations still exist, but are much less important to the common man than the corporations they serve.  A lot of people think it’s still in the future, or that it’s a future that will never happen, but if you tilt your head just slightly, it’s pretty plain that we’re there already in many ways, and damn close on others.

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Future Imperfect – Virtual Transhumanism

So I was talking with a co-worker during some downtime recently, and the speculation it led to was quite interesting I feel.  It started with discussing how we’re in the future already that was talked about back in the 80s and 90s, but we just don’t recognize it(which is a topic I plan to go into seperately), and ended up with some discussion on how things may look in the near future, if we take current trends and run them out to a possible logical conclusion.

To start off with, let’s take a look at Shadowrun – take away the magic and D&D aspects, and it’s fairly standard cyberpunk.  In the original version, the Matrix was this world in virtual reality – VR and you could look like anything you wanted there.  Think Second Life, but with a full body VR, usually via direct neural interface.

As we worked on that tech in the real world, pure VR fell more to the side, partly due to the challenges of such tech versus the demand for such.  Instead, what grew up was a compromise; augmented reality.  Products like Google Glass and the holodisplay that Microsoft has demonstrated mix the virtual right over top of the real.  There are even games using similar tech now, such as the upcoming Pokemon Go.

As the developers of the Shadowrun system and universe updated it, they had to work in modern developments that were not expected back when it was created, such as AR and wireless, that people today might take for granted or see as near-future, and they had to do it in a way that made sense in-universe.  Thus came the wireless Matrix being available anywhere, after a fashion, and overlaid on the real world via AR to interact with.

Well, jumping off that idea, with AR you can overlay images to change how something looks.  What this means, is that fashion may take a sudden dive to the left, as the clothes no longer matter.

For purposes of this thought experiment, let’s assume that computational power is not an issue – cloud computing, etc tied into your visor/glasses/monocle/implants.  In much the same way that the studio was able to replace Arnold or his double in the later Terminator movie with his younger self, in AR your device could edit out a person’s appearance and modify it in real-time. Want some expensive, fancy clothes, but without risk of damaging or soiling them?  Let AR overwrite them onto your body for anyone tied into the network who looks at you.

The fashion world would be rocked, but adapt, and clothes would lose most of their appearance aspects.  Instead of wearing something to look good, you’d wear(or not wear) what was comfortable and affordable.  Most instances of clothes would become drab and utilitarian, while to the everyday folks they would be surrounded by a cavalcade of color and whimsy, full of outfits that are not physically possible.  In warmer weather, to a person not tied into the AR network, it might even seem as if he or she had walked into a nudist colony!

The capability does not stop there, however.  If clothes can be overlaid, so can full appearances.  While flying may not be possible on a personal level, you might end up with a scene looking like a high-resolution realistic Second Life, as the only limits would be those set by the system.  Furries, otherkin, cosplayers, and many others would be drooling over such a capability to truly become their character, or their true self, depending on perspective.

There would have to be limits of course, as their physical bodies still exist, so likely there would be few taurs or other four-leggers running around, or tinies or macro beings for that matter. That aside, on one level this would appear to be a gateway to transhumanism – to become more than human.  Setting aside any social stigma such as exists now for furries and others of a kindred nature, you could be walking down a street and pass a wolf, a faerie, a sumo wrestler, just to enter McDonalds and be served by a tigress whose outfit barely covers her and a robot with visible gears and pistons. People could effectively be anything humanoid they wanted to be.

On the other hand, it’s all virtual.  Turn off the implant, take off the glasses, and you’ll find the boring, mundane, drab grey world still exists behind the glitzy facade, much like Las Vegas.  For some, that may be enough, and with less push behind it from the semi-human quarter, progress and research in that direction may slow or even halt entirely in some aspects.

With less need to take care of themselves physically, there may be increased health issues as well, though possibly less than some would think, as smell is not included in our little thought experiment.  Sound could be, however, providing voice-changers to all and sundry.

This idea however I could easily see being reachable in our lifetime, given the strides networking, parallel processing, and cloud computing has made in the past decade.  Safely gene-splicing to phsycially modify our bodies is much, much further away, I feel.  But with being able to gain the “perfect” body via AR, whatever your definition of perfect, may dis-incentivize  research into actually gaining that body, which may push the end result out even farther.  Then again, there’s no reason that VR couldn’t take off again, allowing people to move in VR and interact with people in the real world via AR, while in the comfort of their home, or maybe even in a computer if anyone manages to solve the problem of how to upload our minds and souls into our creations.

I guess overall I see it as a blind alley that we could easily head into. There may be a door that leads us to someplace unexpected, or we may end up having to turn around and start from zero once more.  Then again, the rumored singularity may happen and we just hop the alley wall into the unknown.

“You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometime…
You just might find…
That you get what you need~”

My Two Cents on Dollars

So, first post I’ve written on my tablet, but bed’s too comfy to leave and I got thoughts to chew on before I go to sleep.

It started by thinking about my current “entertainment” budget, then recalling how some friends of mine were scraping by, and how they think about money, and then how I treat money and what I’d found out recently about where I stand.

Maybe it’s best if I start with my situation.  My current job is salaried, and I honestly probably pay less attention to the amount than I should.  For example, there’s a bonus program going on for completing some training that we need to do anyways, but it had to be done on our own time.  I wanted to do it because it needed to be done anyways, and I had some art in mind I wanted to spend it on, but I almost missed the deadline because the money wasn’t that important – and it was half of a single paycheck in total!

Currently my life us fairly comfortable, though not extravagent.  Thanks to my current arrangements, bills are mostly covered, so most of my paychecks go into savings.  These are relatively temporary arrangenents though, so I still treat that money as if it was already spent, and ignore the total amount sitting in savings unless I need to move money. This keeps me from getting used to overspending and having issues later due to that.

My perspective on money is informed by this treatment of pay as well.  I still feel $200 is a lot to spend on anything, and spending $100-ish on single optional purchases still makes me internally cringe a bit. When I’m  using anything that’s triple digits in price, I usually go over it several times before pressing “buy.”  I still try to pay cash for most small offline purchases even!

Well I was looking at some statistics the other day about salary ranges and was surprised at the ranges.  I had thought I was in the lower-middle class range, but apparently I’m solidly middle class?  My dad before retirement was actually upper-middle, but it never felt like it growing up.  We never really lived like it either.

My friends on the other hand are in a worse situation, though it’s partly of their own making – they have too many dogs and cats to feed and care for, and at least one of them doesn’t really want to get rid of any.  They’be got 4 dogs, 9 cats I can think of, plus 2 more kittens, and then 4-6 people, depending on if either of those last two are covering their own stuff or not.

They’re basically running off two incomes at the moment, with a third partially contributing via rent. Money is tight, and even $3 can seem like a lot at times I think.  They still manage to squeeze in some “entertainment” purchases, it doesn’t feel like they really budget well in advance.  They’re basically going paycheck-to-paycheck right now from my perspective.

Now I’m wondering if I should see if I can help with some electronic budgeting.  At a basic level anyways.

Now I’m not sure where I was going with this.  I try to treat money as if I don’t have it, track my monthly spending on “toys,” balk at big purchases, but a meal out every now and then or an occasional $3-$10 purchase doesn’t seem excessive.  My dad on the other hand will buy a 6-month sub to an MMO he hasn’t even tried yet and think nothing of it.  I’ve got a co-worker who has been subbed to WoW since Vanilla, even though he hasn’t played in years.  And then for the people I mentioned earlier even a month of WoW is a significant cost.

When you don’t have it, money is precious.  If you have a lot and start to use it, your mental scale for what is and isn’t expensive can change, which can then lead to trouble later if your supply dries up, which I guess is all about lifestyle.  Find the lowest lifestyle you’re comfortable at, then put all the extra away in case you ever actually need it. Even if you don’t follow a hard budget, at least track it so you can catch yourself if you start overspending.  At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

After all, there’s two tips I’ve heard in the past. First, is that to have a comfortable retirement, you want to have around one million in the bank these days.  With inflation that will only go up.

Second, is that you want to aim for putting about half your post-tax paycheck into savings.  Right now that’she not a concern for me, but once my circumstances change as I expect them to, I’ll be using that as one of my budgeting guidelines to aim for.

It just feels odd that despite having the lowest need to be responsible with budgeting currently of those I’ve discussed, I seem to be being the most responsible.  And yet, I still seem to care less about it than others.

Speaking about being responsible, one last tip: credit cards shouldn’t be used as small change loan sharks, but as condoms for your wallet.  If you don’t spend more than you have and pay it off in full, it’s no different than a debit card in convienience.  However, if someone steals you debit card number, that money is gone until you convince the bank to reimburse you.  If they steal a CC number, you still have all your money while you work with the bank to cancel the fraudulent charges.  Finally, if you don’t pay it off, interest rates can lead to you digging a hole for yourself that you can’t get out of. I was headed that direction once, but used my current money-handling methodology to free myself from that trap.

Don’t really have anything else to add to this rambling now I guess, so I’ll call it here and see if I can actually get some sleep now!

Home Sweet Home

Welcome!

So between sufficient amounts of boredom accumulating and a lack of things to do in my various games, I decided to make a return to SL as I was feeling decidedly draconic recently.   When I got back in, I was reminded that one of the projects I had kept putting off was a renovation of my home there.

Snapshot_018

The OG Dragon’s Song, with a few of my touches.

Originally, before Kaitlyn passed on, we stayed in a small castle on the small corner of the Isle of Gazoo that we called our own.  It was a cozy little place more fitting to our tiny-sized selves, and home to many virtual pets that she kept there.  It had been there a while before we got together and once I “moved in” with her, I added a few things of my own, such as a Stargate, an art panel, and the stained glass window from the original Isle of Wyrms’ Cathedral, before it was bulldozed for the current version.

Now we’d discussed rebuilding it to better suit the both of us a few times in the past, but not much came of it.  I’d suggested having the building adjusted so it appeared to be built out of the side of the mountain, and maybe make it a three level tower, but between time we spent doing other stuff, prim allotments and such, nothing ever came of it.

Once it became solely mine however, I was torn between doing something with Standing stones that teleported to a skybox above, or a dragon cave built into the mountain itself.  I got as far as locating a cave building kit and trying to prototype a cave before, but the pieces did not have external textures so I had to build an outside wall, and I didn’t like how it was turning out so I trashed the work, and never got back to it until recently.

With time to kill and nothing better to do, I took measurements again and took another stab at building the mountain and cave.  I threw a ice plain about level with the top of the next plot over, followed by another ice wall angled down to match the slope of the ridge next to it, ending at the rock wall.  With that in place, I added some boulders to make a wall of rock, leaving a place for the cave, which I started on after that.

The cave came together better this time, but I found out due to the size of the plot and the cave pieces that if I made it big enough to accommodate my full size form, it wouldn’t be able to be as large around as I wished.  I also found another issue with it, relating to the former castle.

You see, I wanted to leave some of Kaitlyn’s stuff as a memorial, and among the things i inherited were some of her virtual cats.  They were basically confined to the second floor of the castle(which had been our living room of sorts) and I didn’t want to just remove the castle completely, as I couldn’t move any of the objects she had left, such as the bed for the cats. So the first thing I had done before returning the castle was build a room around the room, so that the cats wouldn’t escape and so everything I couldn’t move could stay where it was.

Anyways, once I placed the cave in, I found it was tall enough it was poking through the floor of the new lounge area, which means I would have to dig it out.  Suffice it to say, that terraforming in Second Life with the in-world tools is a royal pain.

The last major addition was the observation balcony, and a third room to go with it.  Since we had a great view from our part of the Isle, I had wanted to have a observation balcony to take advantage of it.  That went in fairly easily, and everything else after that was furnishings and fine-tuning.  But why describe when I can show?

Read more

And we’re back!

So I didn’t get around to writing for a while, and of course when I go to go write, I find out that a technical issue has had it offline since early February.  That’s been corrected now.

I still have a couple post ideas, but I want to give them their own posts. In the meantime?  More art!

The latest piece I won’t share here, as it’s of an adult nature.  I finally found an appropriate YCH I liked from an artist I liked and jumped on it.  It looks good in and of itself, so much that it’s almost a shame it’s explicit as it means it won’t end up on any walls in the future.  Well, except maybe bedroom walls, assuming I could find a way to get it printed properly.

Being Face-itious

Next, another set of stickers for Telegram.  I’ve only got to use about half of them so far, but these were lower priority before because they had less general applicability.  I do like having the ability to post mood pictures of “me” instead of generic smileys though or ASCII ones.

I did have someone ask about using them, which actually feels odd for me.  On the one hand, it’s a compliment in that someone liked the ideas I gave the artist(and her art too!), but on the other, it is “me,” an expression of myself.  There’s nothing that says others can’t use them though, so if they find them, more power to them I suppose!

Why, hello there!

This was from the Giraffle that @FeFairy ran on Twitter!  Entered as a “Hail Mary” attempt, and to my surprise got it!

I’ve also got two more pieces I’m going to commission once the artists I have earmarked open for commissions.  One will be related to one of my upcoming posts, and feature cyberpunk!me, while the other will be more fo an, ahem, risque nature, and will feature a kind of scene I’ve wanted for a long while too.  The only reason I held off on that one was because I didn’t know what lovely female might be interested to be in it, and I didn’t feel right using an existing character for it that was of the right type.

I finally got inspiration however, and in fact the subject I had in mind has become an actual vague character of sorts!  One of the artists on my short list for this pic should be opening up this month too, so if things work out I should be able to get both pictures.

That should about wrap things up for now.  There should be more posts in the near future, this time sooner rather than later!