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We here at Hesitating have a special fascination with the emergence of online worlds — brightly colored simulacrums of human experience that take place in fantastic settings. Arguably the most popular, World of Warcraft has generally been omitted from some of the headline grabbing developments in the online community. This is probably due to its core gameplay and straightforward goals that keep players distracted from silly social experimentation. Second Life, perhaps the game most covered by the media, is more a hotbed of real meets virtual clashes and experiments since its in-game economy can be transferred into real currency.

This year, however, a real death mourned online in WoW sparked a fair amount of controversy. It started in a forum when a ‘friend’ of the deceased announced a funeral for March 4th at 5:30 server time. The girl who had died apparently had a stroke, and the forum was filled with half heart-felt condolences such as, “death is never fun” and “Are you fucking serious? Dude….I was in a guild with her… /cry,” along with a smattering of frowny-face icons.

One prescient post bet money on the funeral being disrupted by someone in the game. The following is a video made by the guild Serenity, who did in fact crash the procession. It’s a little long, so be patient.

My first reaction – before even seeing the video – was: “That’s fucked up.” But I was already chuckling in spite of myself. The lackluster sympathy on the original forum already demonstrates the structural holes in anonymity when it tries to support a weighty topic such as death.

Also, in a game where you were pretending to be in a different world, with different creatures and rules, who’s to say that a funeral slaughter is disrespectful? Maybe a precedent has been set and from now on it will be a sign of respect to the dead to hack all their mourners to pieces. Once the knee-jerk reaction towards offense wears off, it all seems strangely appropriate. If someone was a big enough fan of the game to have friends put on an online funeral, then that person would probably appreciate this type of event were they still alive.

To me, online worlds are exciting not because of the graphics or worlds you can explore, but because common human events such as funerals, weddings, sex, commerce, etc. are being conducted for the first time in these electronic petri dishes. There is no precedent or guidelines to follow in these online firsts, and the things that people choose to keep or throw away from the real-world counterparts is thought provoking. And in these decisions, precedents are being set. What if twenty years from now, when we go to the funeral of a friend online, we feel a sense of closer as the death squads flank us and we are forced to fight for our lives?

What say you, oh loyal readers?

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suit fightOne strange thing about getting older is realizing how few things adults have figured out. The image of good smelling men in suits fighting over a loaf of bread in some primordial mud often enters my mind when walking downtown; an anology for how the pretense of civility in the absence of urgent survival is a tenuous mask. Better healthcare and convenience technology give the impression that those able to afford them are somehow less animal, more human. In my experience, these luxuries create a fantasy of distance from one’s corporeal needs and desires. This fantasy of disavowal can make your human needs bang urgently on your clubhouse door, all the more forcefully because of the sign you’ve hung up prohibiting their inclusion. This observation has already been exhausted by the crunchies and top-heavies that frequent the liberal playgrounds that I’ve lived in for all my life, not to mention a large portion of all Sci-Fi manifestations. I would say it’s an evolution of the trope of mind vs. body, which has usually played out in terms of class and race during almost the entirety of our literary history. But technology has twisted the rules a bit, and now this cerebral disconnect from base functions is available even to the poor. Cell phones, video games, and computers have trickled down past the poverty line. I don’t mean to sound nostalgic for simpler times, as if we used to know who we are and now we’ve lost sight of some sort of purity. I also don’t think it’s wise to clump the whole of technology, convenience, and materialism all into one pile. I just worry when I see

sites like this. Even more when they gain ridiculous popularity. Our identities are fracturing at a head spinning pace. Multiple email addresses, user profiles, phones, clothes. It’s a rare person who can avoid wrapping a little bit of themselves in the things they own and use, or the things they don’t. I just don’t see that it was better before, or that this is something we can avoid. I would say that, personally, I’d like to gain control over where my self goes, instead of a graphic phalanx of advertisments setting the agenda and terms of my identity. My idea of a utopia is not an abolishment of commodities and ads, but simply a civic/human engine rather than an economic/mechanical one for those entities. It’s a tug-of-war. But I know which way I’m pulling, and trying to keep track of which ways I’m being pulled. In the recent past, I believe I mistook the look in older people’s eyes as certainty. I couldn’t wait to join the club. Now I believe it was actually a

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resignation to the struggle. No sight of an end game, but a familiarity with the unknown. That’s why the stockbrokers in my daydream don’t look surprised to be fighting to the death. They’ve set about their task with a grave ferocity. The shock is mine, as I look on expecting that things would be different.

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Pardon my indulgence if you will, again please…

Last night I sprawled out naked on cialis 5mg online apotheke the couch and watched the Walt Disney bastardization of Lloyd Alexander‘s “The Black Cauldron”. I had grown up reading and re-reading Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and had even, canada pharmacy viagra back in the halcyon days of 1985, watched the film with my father and sister at the York Theater when there was a York Theater… I was excited when I happened across the DVD at work and quite unashamed to borrow it…
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The production had been beset with troubles, not the least of which was attempting to condense five books into an 80 minute movie… You have to forget about relating to the books as you watch or you’ll end up throwing your can of beer at the TV and kicking the DVD player across the room which, it has been suggested, isn’t very polite how much does viagra cost at walgreens and doesn’t solve any of the problems… Even still it’s not the best Disney cartoon you’ve ever seen, althought it was the first to receive a PG rating and the first to use computers in the animation process…

The PG rating is what had me screaming in the theater when I was six, scenes I still remember today… It’s not a pleasant story and the animators really go to town– there’s an army of skeletons, flesh being stripped from bones, bloody faces after beatings and a primary character commits suicide… Unfortunately the rest of the film that wasn’t terrorizing me are too shitty for more adult audiences to enjoy (like the Secret of NIMH) so it’s really just the worst of both worlds thrown together… For a movie that had been in production since cvs pharmacy canada rd 1971 when Disney optioned the

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rights you’d think they might have done a little better… Maybe one day I’ll option the stories myself and present them as they should be, five seperate movies with no soppy muppet abortions…

Afterwards I got to thinking about how technology has really fucked everything that was once cool up… Movies are shot like music videos with expensive effects that look less convincing than the scale models of old… I’m not really an animation buff but I still prefer the old drawn style over the rendered 3D blockbusters which have presented the world with an even more jaded and demanding generation than, well, mine… Someone born in 1985 can probably never enjoy something like “Sleeping Beauty” because it will look too foreign, janky and quaint… They probably won’t understand things like Salad Fingers either which aren’t very quaint but are very janky and foreign…

Not that long ago I was recalling with immense pleasure the old video games I used to play instead of have friends… Sierra snagged the contract to do the Disney adaptation of The Black Cauldron, which I only saw once at a friend’s house and didn’t get to play too much) which isn’t the best example of their craft, but they did have a stint as the most revolutionary computer game company in the world… Eventually they became too inflated, moved to Seattle, digitized their games and aired commercials during the Super Bowl and ate shit accordingly… I thought things were sliding downhill prior to the digital bullshit but the last shining moment was their “Willy Beamish“, a game which still enjoyed the humour and spunk of their previous works and incorporated actual animation, drawn by people, cared for and loved… Everytime what is the cialis commercial about I order a Beamish in a bar I still think about the game…

Wait, where was I going? Oh well, next week I’ll talk about how cool 8 Tracks are…

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Remember when we all had tails and roamed in packs picking the rotting flesh from carcasses even the heyenas had given up on? It sucked, so we came up with tools with which we could, after some trial and error, create our own carcasses and keep the heyenas from getting hair all over the leftovers. Now we make animals extinct without a second thought and when’s the last time you saw buffalo wandering down Main Street? It used to be cold and wet and being cold and wet makes you get the sniffles so we stretched some animal skins and bound them to ourselves and now we can almost ignore just how unattractive Aunt Helga actually is because we don’t have to look at as much of her as we used to before she covered herself with pelts… Sleeping in caves was alright– they were there and with a fire at the mouth they kept warm alright but the bats made so much noise and spiders laid their eggs in little Jimmy’s matted hair and Gods how he squealed like a heyena when they hatched and they were certainly drafty… Now you can live in a hermetically sealed condo/loft and order Chinese every Tuesday and what’s on cable? We’re a dissatisfied lot who have fortunately been able to,

with the use of our extraordinary yet mushy brains, resolve each point of discomfort and distaste and boring through ingenuity

and cleverness… Don’t feel like being along? Now you can babble to some associate as you walk down the street on your cell phone… Can’t cook? Microwave… Incapable of deep discussion and introspection? Singles bars… The challanges of combating the fatigue of the human condition have grown as we’ve progressed in covering ourselves with downy do-dads and gadets aimed to distract us from the daily toil and drudgery… Televisions weren’t enough so we had to accentuate aspects of the viewing experience, make them bigger and flatter with better sound (to hear every nuance of the dialogue) and attatched video game console, DVD player and, coming soon, easy grip catheter… The internet provides similar forms of distraction and disporting by providing an easier access to previous preoccupations… Second LifeHere in Dreamland USA a company called Linden Lab has developed an internet dreamland, Second Life, a self-contained 3-D model world where users can pursue the time-honored traditions of commerce, networking and fantasy as their alter-ego avatar… An amazing combination of network software and graphic design software leave much of the online existence up to the users… My quick tour of the website observed people selling virtual property, virtual constructions for said virtual property, virtual clothing for your virtual avatar, and virtual friends for your virtual life… There seems to be no small amount of games available to play on Second Life and, as expected, many games of chance with which you can become a virtual millionaire or, more likely, a virtual pauper; since some online traders even have exchanges set up maybe you could even become a real life millionaire or, more likely, a real life pauper… Users have created online associations which, according to the Linden Company copywriters, include group film discussions and neighborhood associations… According to a user’s Police Blotter fansite there are even virtual conflicts of squatting and intimidation/extortion going on… So it appeals to three standard entities: people who spend their money collecting trinkets and oohing about how shit’s cute; people who find themselves playing online poker at three in the morning; people that get beat up in real life but fucking rock at Doom… Yet as there is still some satisfaction in actually having a physical trinket eBay and other bead exchanges dominate and since there’s better ways to gamble or play games most online poker will be dealt elsewhere… The last group seems particularly attractive as habitual users but, then again, there’s the much more popular and active Eve-Online geek paradise just down the broadband from here… Who really cares about Second Life? Suzanne Vega, apparantly, as she’s declared the first artist to perform live on Second Life– there’s a neat little movie you can watch of someone’s avatar making her virtual guitar… So washed up has beens have a home, a place where they can dominate once again, where their pixilated and rendered likeness can still be found alluring and smooth… Shannon Grei is quoted as saying she works 40 hours a week designing virtual clothes for avatars– which is how she makes a living. In the same article a Linden Lab employee, Catherine Smith, talks about how you can go sky-diving without a fear of dying… Well, no honey, it’s not sky diving but, yes honey, it ain’t gonna kill you… No adrenal glands pumping bile around your stomach, no wind whipping through your hair at dangerous speeds, no fear no live no die… Who really cares about Second Life? What kind of person finds it a worthwhile place to invest their time and a moderate sum ($10 a month allows you to buy your first piece of property and begin doing whatever the fuck it is you do) pretending? Probably the same people who used to lurk on BBSs trading phone phreaks and code hacks and sinister little anti-everything messages with one another and the same people that used to meet on Saturday night in someone’s garage for some epic D&D and grape soda… Online daters who can’t handle the crush of pheremones and nerves, recluses who can’t handle the outside, the lonely and dejected and the failed… Everyone else, design students experimenting with styles, highschool economics classes practicing at business, snarky teens looking to talk dirty and pick virtual fights, will most likely have their fill pretty quickly and move along on to the next trick… No, I dunno– it’s such a vast entity… I spent an hour just looking at the company site and some user forums and still couldn’t begin to understand how it even works… I find it compelling, certainly, and to an extent dangerous… It seems like it’s something which requires actual experimentation (like mushrooms or homosexuality) before having any sort of understanding… One thing’s certain– there’s a lot of potential for something to be made of the space but I have no idea what… Well, actually I imagine it’ll be wasted, set aside, and forgotten… My guts say good idea, but I don’t really know why…

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Ah, yes, hello there. So you’ve decided to run your groping eyes all over my nubile prose. I admire your taste. As if reading this wasn’t its own reward, I’ve dropped a little breadcrumb below…

Just let that play while we sit and chat (thanks to William for this gem of wonder). I’ve decided to give a rundown of… ok, actually, just turn it off, it’s really distracting… I’ve decided to reveal the recent joys that del.icio.us has bestowed on me and any who subscribe to their ‘popular’ feed. Now, I find myself in an awkward position because, like a good mix-tape, you don’t want to start with your strongest stuff on a blog post. It has to be good, but there has to be room to really lay it on. I’m throwing this rule, and caution, into the wind to bring you the moneyshot up front:

Funny enough, a link that I came across only minutes after I saw that commercial answered my immediate question: What happens to the kids who grew up on shit like this? They raise kids like this, that leave white painted skidmarks on your soul and make you bust your crank on their soft heads. Serioulsy, I know it was the ’80s, but the pulsing synesthesia and macabre mescaline caverns of a corn pops comedown took me by surprise.

What those parents need is something that will curb the euphoric response their children receive from making daddy cry. These sentient child restraints will pin and detain those little goblins until you get home from work and deign to kick the food dish within their reach. I know, too far. Maybe if I had put all this information in a list then people would excuse my cruel hypotheticals. See item #1 here. In fact, let’s have a short list of all the recent lists I’ve come across on del.icio.us: Top 3 Lists

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  2. 10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Will Ruin Society
  3. 10 Most Expensive Cars

Those are actually three different titles for the same list. I have to get back to keeping exciting things from happening at my corporate executive job and securing my white paint so the kids can’t get it, but I hoped you’ve enjoyed the tour (and remember, you’re being watched so I’ll know if you didn’t click through all the links). I don’t know how to leave you, but I know we’re in the middle of something, we’re here to stay, and we raise our head for the color rEEEEEeeeEEeeeeEeeeEed.

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