Writings, photos, politics and rants... *Original content - may not be reproduced without my consent.*

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Looking Backward

Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy (1888) Various publishers.

Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy, is a strange read and it is so for a number of reasons, not least being the fact that it was published in 1888 and is about the socialist utopia the writer envisages for the 20th century. In it he predicts credit cards, radio, television and covered pedestrian malls.
Julian West, a middle class insomniac, employs the services of a hypnotist to put him to sleep at night. When he awakes, he finds he has slept over 100 years. It is the year 2000.

As well as being a critique of the social, economic and political situation of his own times, it is a romance and a science fiction fantasy.
Bellamy’s 20th century is a time when everyone shares in a common wealth. There are no wars, no private profit, no starvation, and retiral on full pension at 45 - so you can, just with that fact, see that his prediction was wide of the mark!
It’s a very 19th century idea of utopia. Everyone speaks in the way the educated middle classes spoke in the 19th century, the dialects of the working class having been eradicated by equality and education.

There is an equality of sorts between men and women - though his 19th century mind could only imagine an “imperium in imperio” organisation of the “weaker sex”. Women do work and are paid equally but their working hours are less and “careful provision is made for rest when needed,” because women are “inferior in strength to men and further disqualified industrially in special ways.”

Though these things are telling of the middle class Boston Bellamy is from, his ideas on state capitalist organisation and equality were revolutionary enough to make the book the third biggest seller of its day after Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

One of the most interesting parts of the book for me comes towards the end when he revisits the 19th century. He takes a walk around Boston, commenting on advertising, the banking system and poverty. He then goes to his fiancĂ©e’s house where he sits at a luxurious dinner table. Someone in the company asks him where he has been:
“‘I have been in Golgotha,’ at last I answered. ‘I have seen Humanity hanging on a cross! Do none of you know what sights the sun and stars look down on in this city, that you can think and talk of anything else? Do you not know that close to your doors a great multitude of men and women, flesh of your flesh, live lives that are one agony from birth to death?

“Listen! Their dwellings are so near that if you hush your laughter you will hear their grievous voices, the piteous crying of the little ones that suckle poverty, the hoarse curses of men sodden in misery turned half-way back to brutes, the chaffering of an army of women selling themselves for bread. With what have you stopped your ears that you do not hear these doleful sounds? For me, I can hear nothing else.”

He looks around the table and sees the guests are shocked and he tells them he was not accusing them personally of the weaknesses of the 19th century system. The guests, rather than seeing his point, become “angry and scornful... ‘Madman!’ ‘Pestilent fellow!’ ‘Fanatic!’ ‘Enemy of society!’ were some of their cries...” He is then thrown out.

I don’t know about you, but I have been to parties like that.

After this revisiting of his former time he feels shame, “For I had been a man of that former time. What had I done to help on the deliverance whereat I now presumed to rejoice? I who had lived in those cruel, insensate days, what had I done to bring them to an end?”

This is an interesting read - giving an insight to the ideas that were being bandied about at the time and the belief that capitalism was in a state of imminent destruction. Bellamy was writing around the time when Marx’s ideas were becoming known to the world.

Looking backwards, perhaps, if all of those people with similar goals had come together and forced change, a time-traveller arriving today would not see the increase of death, destruction and broken lives that has actually happened.
Perhaps, if all of the people with the same goal come together in our time, a time-traveller in 100 years will find a utopia where “long ago oppressor and oppressed, prophet and scorner, had been dust. For generations rich and poor had been forgotten words.”

Read Bellamy’s works online - http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/b#a327

The Parable of the Water-Tank from the book Equality published in 1897


Friday, 11 June 2010

A large tweet in answer to @jazzifull's claims on "productivity" in the NHS

I have looked up hosptial episode statistics and workforce statistics for Scotland and England and Wales.

As a quick and dirty measure of changes in 'productivity' I am using the number of patients discharged from the acute sector between 2004-2009 and the percentage change in NHS worforce. In Scotland this is the change in total workforce so includes not only acute sector staff but also those treating patients in the community and staff not involved in frontline patient care.

In England and Wales it is total change in professionally qualified staff, so all doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medically allied professions. This therefore also includes staff treating patients in the community. As the change in patients treated is just for the acute sector, it is important to remember that the change in workforce signficantly overestimates the increase in staff associated just with acute patient care. Even so it is still clear that the percentage increase in patients discharged from hospital between 04-09 compared with the increase in staff over the same time period does not indiate decreased 'productivity'.

The numbers discharged from all specialities in Scotland rose from 1,230,982 to 1,390,766, an increase of 13% in patients treated in hospital. The total NHS staff (including community) rose also by 13%, therefore the acute staff numbers treating this increased proportion of patients would be less.

The numbers of patients discharged from all specialties in England and Wales between 04-09 rose from 12,180,674 to 14,284,821,and increase of 17%. The total hosptial and community clinical NHS staff in England and Wales rose by 10% in the same time period.

All of these statistics can be verified from Information Statistics Website and The NHS information centre for health and social care.

Could @jazzifull, for whom this research was done, now verify your sources of information on your claims, as unfounded claims supporting political ideology need to be challenged.

Monday, 31 May 2010

To the BBC regarding the Freedom Flotilla

I sent this to the BBC today:

I would like to complain about the BBC coverage of the aid flotilla to Gaza.

On the day preceding the murder of aid workers, the BBC had little coverage of this flotilla, while most other news agencies in Europe covered it.

On the morning of the murders, even though twitter was full of messages from flotilla workers that they were being boarded, and the live streaming video that clearly showed Israeli soldiers boarding and firing weapons in one of the ships (I watched coverage until the cameras went off after 4am), the BBC did not react. People I was in contact with sent tweets to the BBC and sent emails etc, to no avail.

Following what seemed a really strange almost silence on the part of the BBC in the following hours (compared with Aljazeera and other networks), the BBC began to report the "incident" - but with Israeli spokespeople as the only official accounts being aired. In fact, Israeli Govt spokespeople were repeated and repeated. And switching back and forward across networks, the BBC coverage - studio based, showing shaky camera shots of the boarding interspersed with Israeli spokes people -and little from the aid organisations, was seen to be left lacking. Aljazeera had people commenting across the world - from Canada through to Jordan, Germany, Gaza, Israel, Turkey - and UK.

BBC coverage actually looked biased when it was parroting the Israeli line that aid workers were alQuaeda and had attacked soldiers with clubs etc - as if the obvious defence of the ship justified 19 deaths in some way.

What has been left out of coverage, repeatedly, that this was an act of piracy in international waters. The BBC seem to see this as some kind of "mistake" on the part of the Israeli army... not the blatant murder of aid workers and abduction of over 700 others on the high seas.

I have been disappointed in the BBC news coverage for some time - from before the UK election to be exact, when the political correspondents seemed to take the line that the Tories were sailing, unquestionably, to victory. The coverage of this as an Israeli mistake - or that the Israeli line on Gaza and the flotilla is somehow justified, seems to be more of the same lazy reportage.

As I type, I am watching an interview with yet another Israeli spokesperson (8.14pm). The journalist is allowing this man free range to peddle his side of the story without challenge – there was no questioning the boarding in international waters and kidnap of aid workers. There was no reference to the blockade and the reason that the aid was being given because of the fact that the Israeli control of the Gaza crossing points means that less than a quarter of the supplies needed actually get to Gaza. This sums up the coverage throughout the day. In contrast, the following interview of a Jewish man who is going to sail a boat to Gaza later in the year, was challenging and again put the accusations of the Israeli govt to him.

If this had have been Iran boarding a ship, the BBC would most certainly have been covering it in a completely different way.

Unless I see a more balanced and enquiring news coverage, I will be shifting to Aljazeera. The BBC seems to think it must act slightly more sensibly than the despicable Sky or Fox networks in order to seem balanced. This is not good enough and certainly does not justify my hard earned TV licence fee (a system, I may add, I defend to the hilt).

Neil Scott


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Can the Far Left Recover from these election results? A reply...

SSP Campsie, my branch, react to the General Election result - HERE

I replied to an article by Tony Greenstein on the Socialist Unity website

My Reply
Good article. The makeup of the last two cobbled together alliances has shown the inherent sectarianism of the participants holding on to their "wee bit hill and glen". I can only speak about the Scottish situation in this as that is what I witnessed. And lets allow honesty here.

Sheridan, who is desperately holding on to some sort of need to be adored and his past glories, seemed rather than wanting to glorify the "unitary" nature of TUSC (or STUSC- I’ll come back to this), at every opportunity he had on television referred to the "coalition" as "Solidarity STUSC." A minor point? Maybe, but it shows up a few things- that one, the Scottish Left is more pro-independence than a cross border “unionist” alliance can allow; two, that Sheridan is using his past glories to woo the English left and the SWP (and the Scottish SWP are desperately clinging to them. And of course, personal relationships with Crow et al have been given more relevance than political nous) and three, after whatever happens in September, the left in Scotland should look towards the consistently politically unitary SSP which has the mechanisms for a left unitary group and is no longer reliant on “personalities” and heroes.

Let me cover each of those points.

The Scottish Left, as recognised by those in Solidarity and some of the other small groups and individuals who were brought together by the TUSC project, is mainly pro-independence. TUSC was not a good project for the left in Scotland- it did little to emphasise the left’s pro-independence stance beyond adding “Scottish” to the beginning of its name. STUSC, and those who proposed it, relied on three things in Scotland – one, the fame of Sheridan; two, the materials produced by unions and the remnants of the Solidarity project (some of which were appropriated SSP materials – the Southside of Glasgow was covered with SSP signs that had STUSC posters stapled to them!) and three, the SWP. The left in Scotland are aware of the SWP and their STUSC candidate’s real feelings on independence, so at the kick off, there were problems. The London based SWP and CWI are an anomaly in an organisation that Sheridan and his non-sectarian foot-soldiers were trying to stress was a “Scottish” one. Those who follow the machinations of the Scottish and British left would have been in no doubt that this organisation, regardless of the Sheridan stress on “Scottish”, was mainly a unionist one.

Another problem with STUSC in this regard was the fact that it was a hitherto unknown entity for the electorate (and one that most on the left will have know would disappear after the General Election) – and even with larger funds available to it, and the addition of Sheridan as a “personality” it fared no better than the strapped for cash SSP. The percentages between them are so small, they are not really worth comparing as the few votes between them cannot be seen as a real vote of confidence for one or the other.

Regarding Sheridan’s TV appearances in which he called the project “Solidarity/STUSC,” this showed his real feeling – ie. that this was a “convenient” coalition – one that would bankroll another TV/fame adventure – and had limited mileage. He wanted to keep Solidarity in people’s minds – though in the Scottish elections next year, the reality of the “strength” of Solidarity will become apparent. Solidarity have little branch strength beyond a core, and its base – hero worship for “Scotland’s greatest socialist,” have slowly woken up to the fact that he isn’t. Solidarity’s support relies entirely on the Sheridan personality – one that the Scottish Public no longer see as “Scotland’s most trusted politician” – to say the least - as they did back in the early part of the decade.

Taking the Scottish Socialist Party, there are a number of relevant factors to mention about it. It has remained consistent in its political stance and alliances. It has not jumped (or at times it has been overlooked by the mainly unionist organisations) into the cobbled together and undemocratic alliances in the past couple of years. Since the split, it has an almost entirely new EC – with many new and young faces. It has a consistent street presence and branch structure. It has a huge web presence. It has an iron clad international support. It has no or little stresses within its structure regarding independence – or the support of personalities (those well known candidates polled more or less the same as those who were not so well known in the General election).

Now – I am not saying that the future of the left in Scotland is the SSP – though it is the only real, credible, consistent vehicle/core for the Scottish left at the moment (if Sheridan disappears, Solidarity will shatter into its sectarian pieces).

The Left in the UK must rethink – and think beyond the personalities of Crow and in Scotland, Sheridan. It must also take into consideration the differences in the Scottish situation from the rest of the union. Scotland completely rejected the Tories. Scotland, when asked to vote in Scottish elections, votes for pro-independence and Scottish themes. Scotland WILL look for an alternative outside the Liberal Democrats after the current Westminster machinations are over.

And it must think beyond the past glories of discredited alliances and personalities.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Post Election

The Tories will wreck this country.

A view HERE

Sunday, 2 May 2010

My Marginal Vote

I live in the marginal constituency of East Dunbartonshire. At present it has a Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson, who took the seat at the last General Election from Labour’s John Lyons by 4000 votes. She has been a very visible MP – she has a fantastic sense in how to use local media and local gripes to her political benefit. The other parties in this constituency election are the SNP, who support an independent Scotland – as I do but whom have no chance of taking this constituency; the Tories and UKIP – neither would be a preferred party to me – in fact I would love to see both placed firmly into the annals of history...

My preferred party, the Scottish Socialist Party are not standing here. This throws open the use of my ballot – though I will end up voting “tactically” – something I have never done before. I have always voted for what I thought was the best party or candidate.

I have decided to vote Labour. This is not without reticence. New Labour has been the target of my political ire for most of their 13 year history in power.

New Labour have let down working class people, who were its core, since it’s re-invention beginning with Kinnock back in the 1980’s. They sold their principles in order to play to the neo-liberal agenda. They curried favour with the extreme right wing government of GW Bush and backed him in his revenge and oil driven adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the Labour Government has brought in things like minimum wage and Tax Credits – things that do help the poorest of society, they have failed to close the gap between rich and poor and we have and increasing inequality gap. They have failed to eradicate child poverty. And to compound this inequality, the blind faith the New Labour establishment put in the neo-liberalism of the markets, the poor through to the middle classes are going to have to pay for the economic mess.
These are just some of my concerns! So why have I decided to vote for them? Well, for one, the other alternative in this marginal is Lib Dem. I have nothing much against the local candidate, but I feel the Lib Dems are a party who can be all things to all people – until they get into power.

Ask the people of East Dunbartonshire, who at the last council elections ousted the Lib Dem majority council (which was then replaced by a terrible coalition of Labour and Tories). The perception of the Lib Dems in power here is one of corruption, lies and doing the opposite of what they said they would. The local candidate, Jo Swinson, is good at the party line but does not escape the party perception – when I emailed her to congratulate her on the Hull City Council policy of free school meals for all primary children - a policy that was shown to raise health indicators within the city – a policy that was inherited from an ousted Labour majority – she emailed me back to say she too thought this policy was a great one and she would pass on my congratulations (at that time one the Scottish Socialist Party were being blocked from implementing in Scotland thought the Scottish Parliament by some of the main parties – including the Lib Dems). A few weeks later, the Lib Dems stopped free school meals in Hull – and this was BEFORE the economic crisis – when things were “good” but Lib Dems wanted to be shown to be as “economically efficient” as the Tories. It is good to see some Labour Councils, notably in Durham and Newham have taken up this policy.

Though this example does not fully illustrate my distrust for the Lib Dems, I feel they are not to be trusted in a hung Parliament. They would, regardless of their hmming and haaing when they asked, support a minority Tory government… and it is not to be forgotten through the hype that they are “left of Labour” that Liberalism contains quite a few right wing people and policies. A small example came to the surface when their much hero worshipped shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable, said he would like to make striking in the public services illegal. These are the jobs that ARE going to have to be defended and fought for in the coming years – and he would prefer if people in these jobs had no power to save their income. It is the same public services that Cable says he will cut quite viciously.

The Lib Dems didn’t take us to war – but they have been faltering in their support/ not support of the wars. They want to scrap Trident – but they are vague about what they would do after it was scrapped – their internal debate is not one of getting rid of a useless and dangerous nuclear arsenal, but with what to replace it with. They are no Left alternative!

So, why am I voting for the Labour Party in this election? For all the above – and I add, that there are still socialists in the party. Socialists that a minority Labour Government will have to appease. To quote “Socialist Appeal” a Marxist organisation in the Labour Party, “Either the Labour leaders attempt to “manage” this crisis, which means attacks on the working class, or they decide to make the bosses pay and that means taking their accumulated wealth and putting it at the disposal of working people, who would then proceed to plan the economy according to the interests of the many and not the few.” – this is something I WANT to believe in.

Will this happen under a wounded Gordon Brown? Maybe. I am a sucker in that I try to see the good in people – and like Darth Vader, I am hoping Gordon Brown returns from his ‘going over to the dark side.’ This is a person who wrote books such as, “Where there is Greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future,” “Values, Visions and Voices: An Anthology of Socialism” and in his fantastic book on James Maxton, he is positively enthusiastic about Maxton and his socialist principles. He says of these, “The social equality he supported was not for the sake of equality but for the sake of liberty. A truly socialist society would free men and women from the fear of poverty, the uncertainties of unemployment and the miseries of deprivation.”

If the Blairite/Mandelson New Labour project was one he was kind of forced to go along with (I CAN suspend disbelief at times), perhaps a vote for Brown will have him return to those values. Am I too idealistic? Maybe. Put it this way, I would not be searching for such excuses if the Scottish Socialist Party were standing in our constituency.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Rape Play.

This is my contribution on the discussion the SLLU Feminist Network (Femnet) are having on Rape Play Games and Sims in Second Life. I welcome comment on this - I am here to learn.

My argument is not with those who wish to pursue erotica with other consenting adults in SL. To be honest, I feel this is healthy and should be a right.
My truck is with those who exploit . Exploitation, in my opinion, takes on many forms in our society, from the exploitation of the poor by “credit agencies” through to the sexual exploitation of trafficked men, women and children for sex. Those examples are of systemic exploitation – exploitation that happens because the capitalist society we have built can only survive by exploiting people by lying to them or forcing them into using their skills or time or thoughts or bodies in order for someone to profit or for their own survival in this market driven society.
In the UK , nearly 1 million women experience at least one incident of domestic abuse each year (British Crime Survey (BCS) self-completion questionnaire, 2007/08); Close to 10,000 women are sexually assaulted every week (BCS self-completion questionnaire, July 2008); At least 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence (Department of Health, 2002); 3% of men reported a non-consensual sexual experience as adults and over 5% of men reported sexual abuse as a child [source: Coxell A, King M, Mezey G, Gordon D. Lifetime Prevalence, characteristics, and associated problems of non-consensual sex in men].

I could go on… and of course these figures are from my own country – statistics in the USA or the rest of Europe etc I am sure can easily be found – and at a guess they will be shocking.

This exploitation is a result of many factors – some of which are systematic – the profit motive of pimps, gangs and other exploiters – and also the desperation of poor people to make ends meet or to buy a better life for themselves or their children – or to feed a drug problem caused by alienation from society and by the intolerant controls on drugs. And of course, in the case of the huge problem of violence against women, the misogyny that is bolstered by our media and power structures and the alienation of people within society etc. For violence against men, I would cite the majority of the above reasons and also from http://www.survivorsuk.org/find_out_more/about_male_rape_and_sexual_abuse.php
“Again, it [the perpetrator] could be anyone - male or female. But the facts show that more men were abused from within the family than outside, and more men were raped by people they knew rather than strangers. In our years of experience, we've been contacted by men who have been abused by all different types of perpetrator.”

Recently games have come on to the market – and of course are part of Second Life, that use representations of violence against women and men as part of the “winning strategy” or philosophy of the particular game/sim etc.

Some argue that those who are involved do so because they have the free will to do so and it is acting out fantasy. People cite support for these people to do this because, “women have rape fantasies” or “men…” etc.

Recently in the UK, a woman was brought to court for writing poetry that was about fantasies of 9/11 type scenarios. She was a muslim woman. Her husband is in prison for plotting bombings and killings in England.

Quite rightly, the woman was eventually acquitted – her poetry was not shared or public or published in wide spread publications – in fact her poetry was for her own personal outlet. It was her giving outlet to her artistic and cultural identification with those who were carrying out these atrocities. Incidentally, she is now separated from her husband, whom she says she did not know was planning death and mayhem.

My argument is not with people who want an outlet for fantasies of wanting to be raped (and let’s face it, it is a fantasy – not a want to reality), but my argument is with those who sell areas or games in SL that include visualisations and emotes of violence towards women and children, and indeed men, as “normal” or as fun. Gor, an extremely misogynistic Role Play, is a prime example of that. I have had to help quite a few people over the past few years – all women I might add – get through the de-programming that that invidious philosophy extols. There have been reports of Gor violence leading to rl injury, rape and in one case death (for evidence on gor, please ask me inworld for notecards).

I have had debates with “women” – who in the case of two inworld “reporters” turned out to be men – about the merits of violence against women in the Gor scenario.

To cut a long story short, I am also against the trivialisation (ie personal titillation) of violence and intrusion of men, children and womens well being through sexual violence. How would reinactments of 9/11 by Muslim people in SL be received – and would it be tolerated under the California based Linden Lab? How would an Al-Qaeda game – where gamers can cut the heads off Americans be received? How would a “flood New Orleans” sim be received? Or a holocaust game?

(In SL we have had some very informative representations of violence – like the Darfur sim for example - and lots of Palestinian information sims and parcels – these are quite different from the titillation motivation – and in some cases, the profit motivation of the types of games and sims I am writing about).

The fact is, across the world, millions of people, men women and children lose their lives through extreme sexual violence – or are subject to rape/violence on a regular basis through family members or through trafficking/ prostitution etc. Why should we stand by and allow the promotion of exploitative games and sims trading on extreme human misery?

Iceland post

I have published a view on the Icelandic volcano HERE

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Anyone interested in reading - I have added a couple of old pieces I wrote in the past 10 years to HERE

Comments welcome (good or bad... :)

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The new me...

I lost inventory when i tried the new SL viewer, so I updated Plot's look. I don't think this will be a perm look. BTW - downloaded Emerald as my viewer- HERE

Plot and Alecto are back

Plot and SLLU Alecto (the SLLU funds avie) are back in SL. I took this pic with the new viewer, which I am having difficulties with. Plot's borg eye enhancements don't show up on it for some reason... anyway... tis good to be back.

UK General Election

This is who I will be voting for in RL... their website HERE and my branch HERE

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


Article about SLLU from 3 years ago (thought I would archive this :)


Starr Luna - my friend!

Thanks Starr!

Someone who has taken my cause on (through chats on Avatars united)... a real Starr.

I still have not been "freed." I will get in to SL later next week, but will be out of the country for a few days, so if you want to know my "progress" with LL, I am sure Starr will let you know.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I have posted three pieces of my writing here

Monday, 15 March 2010

More Real Life

I fought and argued on the phone with Linden Lab today. Plot is still in limbo, as is the SLLU Accounts Avie.

I gave my mind a rest from the political over the past couple of days. Over the past couple of days we had a friend up from the North of England, so we took it as an excuse to get into the countryside again.

Yesterday we went to Luss.

Luss is a place I first discovered on a back pack trip over from my native Ireland back in 1989.

A friend and I had decided to get out of Ireland for a week, with a few quid, a tent and a bottle of whisky. We decided to explore the dark lands beyond the Irish Sea. The bottle of whisky was drank in Balloch in one evening after a good few pints in a local bar and after a day of lying around with desperate hangovers, we walked the ten miles from Balloch to Luss. None of the journey was planned, and when we arrived in Luss, in the evening, we had no light to pitch our tent with. Someone on the camp site gave us a lend of one, and in the strongest wind I think I have ever experienced on the shores of Loch Lomond since, we managed to get the tent up, but we didn’t get much sleep with the wind and rain banging off the side of the canvas.

The next day, we walked through this stunningly beautiful village and when I came to live in Scotland about 5 years later I came back and I try to get to the place as often as I can. My friend and I staggered and wheezed and fluked our way to John o' Groats. No photos were taken. No more whisky was consumed. But the darkened lands became the brightest light, in my mind.

Yesterday we walked around the village and through the church yard to the old slate quarries. We saw a farmer train his sheep dog, and after finding all of the local restaurants closed we drove to Garelochead, past the massive steel blot that is Faslane Nuclear Submarine base.

We ate in the Milano cafe, spoiled only by the bigot who spouted his narrow minded philosophies about the Scots, the Irish and immigrants. After he spouted his thoughts that the Scots should have to put up with the nuclear base and not pick and choose what they want if they get independence, we had, at our table, a loudish conversation that basically said that if the English Parliament want nukes, they could base them outside London if they wanted…

And I am off for a walk through Milngavie village in 1/2 hour after Star Trek: Voyager. I don't think Janeway will barter Seven of Nine.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Real Life

Since Linden Lab inexplicably suspended my account (and the SLLU accounts avatar) I have had some time to spend in RL (that’s “Real Life” folks).
Let’s share some of that with you.

I took myself out of town and had a walk around Milngavie (say – Mullguy) Reservoir in my favourite “hoodie” sweatshirt. It says, “When Freedom is Outlawed, Only Outlaws will be Free.”
Today has been a beautiful day on the west coast of Scotland – bright, crisp and shiny. I was buffeted a bit by a nipping breeze, pouring down the Campsies, on it’s journey down into the Clyde Valley.

As I walked, I thought back to the night out I had last night in Glasgow with fellow education workers. My starter, Black Pudding and baked banana was followed by a burger and homemade fries, parenthesised by Stella Artois in the snug, but lovely Brodies Restaurant in West Regent Street, Glasgow (www.brodiesrestaurant.com)

Always, always my social encounters are political. Even a works night out with people who openly say they are non-political. Conversations at the table - at least at my part of the table, swung from education cuts, to how Thatcher killed our right to a house by introducing the strangely named “right to buy” market in social housing. We talked about Trident, asylum seekers (in the wake of the deaths of the Serykh family, who after being hounded by the authorities in Glasgow, chose to commit suicide rather than risk being sent back to Russia – some details here of the march today in Glasgow ) and the non-choice people think they have in the General Election coming up in the UK in May. There is an alternative to Labour and the Tories and the insipid and very dangerous Lib Dems, I told them. The Scottish Socialist Party.

The school janitor made the most political statement of the night. He said, “I just want to leave the world a wee bit better for my grand-weans and those who come after me.” I said this is exactly what drives me. We can’t have a better world when we are told, “If it was good enough for me, it is good enough for you,” or “They don’t know they are living… in my day…,” etc. I said, that his philosophy is one I TRY to have in every aspect of my life. We are all flawed in some way, and at times I fail in this, but I try.

After my walk around Milngavie Reservoir (I did a figure of eight – takes a while to load this, but worth seeing in “satellite” mode- http://short.to/1iv6p ), I decided as we are broke (mortgage, kid, heating, petrol) I would do the weekly shop in the budget Lidl store. As I shopped, I thought, this capitalist society, the naked injustice of which has been exposed with the “financial crisis” keeps us well hemmed in. How can anyone fail to see that the financial crisis is one meted out by the very rich who do not suffer, upon the kind and poor of society who will suffer to pay back the debts THEY have lumbered us with? Cuts are being introduced into services in sneaky ways… education in Glasgow is going to suffer a hammer blow in the coming months. Already local services are creaking with the strain the bank “bailout” our hard earned tax money funded. The rich change their balance sheets to read “capital gain” rather than profit so they can escape tax; they hide out off shore in Guernsey tax haven/ Switzerland and the likes, owning more than they or their families could ever hope to need while the poor and kind suffer and toil and starve and die because of the greed of the rapacious and selfish few.

My weekend this week, is different from last week in that I am not going out to any demos as I had two last week (you can see photos of both of them here ) but will do some door to door leafleting for the two public meetings my branch of the SSP are arranging. These are on “BRING HOME THE TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN AND SAY NO TO CUTS!”

I sit in my living room gazing at the ash in the fireplace, drinking my “fair trade” coffee happy in the knowledge that capitalism has sounded its own death knell. And a bit annoyed that I can’t engage with other SLLU members as Plot in Second Life.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

When Linden Lab act like a corporation...

Profit before People

Advice for activists

What we as activists should remember is that Linden Lab is essentially a corporation. No matter how woolly liberal they may seem, the fact is, the corporate image is all, as this effects profit – the driving force for any corporation. For us to demand “fair virtual laws” is to demand McDonalds is slightly more ethical in its cow killing. McDonalds can claim to be more ethical (using local cows etc), but it cannot be fully ethical because of the demand from shareholders for ever increasing profit and the pressure to “bigger”, to quote Dr Suess. The only ways within capitalist society to change a company completely, is to own a majority of shares or create a campaign that affects the profit of the company.

Linden Lab, therefore, does not protect the rights of the user – the customer – and it never will in this profit driven world. The rights of the corporation come first. And this creates many problems for those of us using the Second Life platform as a means to create educational content/ events on matters across the left activist spectrum. From our stances on anti-fascism through to the “normalisation” of the use of the feminine form as a target for physical abuse, those who disagree with us can easily dampen our effectiveness. This has been shown from the use of a new griefing method – that is, the reporting of activists for heinous acts such as sexual child play when nothing of the sort has taken place. Linden Labs response to this type of report is to ban first and investigate later, which can mean that an activist, unless prepared, can be out of action on Second Life for between 48-72 hours (according to the LL TOS). Linden Lab, in it’s profit driven corporatist world, can do no less- regardless of how damaging and distressing this is to the person who has been maliciously maligned. They do not have the financial capacity or man power to investigate every report – and they as a corporation cannot afford publicity that may say “Linden Lab allow Child Play Porn go on Unimpeded” because they are investigating first and banning after this. Corporate image is all.
I have been thinking of a number of preventative measures activists can take to ensure this does not happen to them – or at the very least does not impede their SL effectiveness.

1 Create an alt. This alt should have access to all of your important groups and perhaps even have shared ownership of any activist groups you set up. Use this alt for protest etc.

2 Do not accept TP’s from people you do not know – or have small experience of. Back in 2007, a newspaper reporter sent me a TP which I accepted and I found myself in a media SL sim in a room with the reporter and the leader of the French Front National for a double interview. I had to make my excuses and leave, as there was no way I was going to legitimise the FN by talking to them in an interview that was to appear in a rl newpaper.

3 If you are using AU, do not join clubs people invite you to without knowing anything about them.

4 Make sure your chatlog is saved on your computer. Now and again, save it all to an external hard-drive/pen drive/disk.

5 Ensure as soon as you find yourself banned, you submit a ticket. This will force LL to investigate, though this means that they will be going through your chatlogs.

6 Find out the nearest LL office to you… in UK there are a few. Phone them. Ask them for the information on your file. If there are issues that don’t seem to be being dealt with, in the UK, the information held by Linden Lab comes under the Data Protection Act. A complaint can be made through the Information Commissioner’s Office http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/data_protection.aspx Remember, LL have the right to time to reply. Though it is valid to say that if a serious allegation has been made and appears on a file held by LL, you have the right to access to the information leading up to that allegation.

If anyone would like to add to this regarding their country and their rights, please comment!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

2010 SL

I'm back after a break from SL over the past few weeks. Much going on in RL.

I have stopped using the Android SL connection as I found people didn't really like interacting with me when they knew I could not see them. Also, it became awkward as some people thought I should be available all the time. My SL time is reduced from when I first came inworld nearly 3 1/2 years ago, and I don't want people to think otherwise.

Resolution for 2010... to help build SLLU; SLLU Womens Network and SLLU Antifa and to build contacts between SLLU members and other progressive/ anti-capitalist groups in SL. Also, SLLU land should be used for regular events. We will build on the brilliant work by Zoe Parness who organised the really popular Radical Poetry evening.

See you all in SL in the next few days.