Friday, June 24, 2016

Update on the Politcal Locations

By Bixyl Shuftan

Since it was revealed that the Trump HQ and Manor had moved out from the Lionheart Ahadi sim, and a Hillary Clinton HQ erected in it's place, there have been a few developments on the political side of Second Life. When I dropped by to interview Candace Larganta, the owner of the Clinton HQ, there was a new Trump building next to it, this one with "Hillary for Prison" signs. I would later get in contact with JP Laszlo, and he would confirm, "Yes that is (by) myself, myself and my friend." When asked why he didn't leave a marker at the old location, "Biding my time.....I also don't have anywhere for people to go so I'm mainly just putting the sign there to irritate the Hillary people."

About when the new Trump HQ would be open to the public, JP stated he couldn't give a date due to complications, "Wish I could. I wish I knew myself, I really do. My builder is tied down at work and grabbing every spare minute they can. Be aware though the tone of the place has shifted somewhat tongue in cheek. ... It is more of a hangout and less of a serious HQ anymore. Trump supporters come here, even non Trump supporters. We all have a good time and the sim is Trump-themed but beyond the theme we aren't pushing an agenda."

Of their new build, JP stated it was being based on the building in a rather strange video titled "Japanese Donald Trump Commercial," saying of the build,"The style is authoritarian vaporwave. It's going to be very abstract and surreal. ... the capital building is a sim length, takes up the whole north end of the sim. It's (one) quarter hangout, (one) quarter art project, (one) quarter political expression, and a quarter personal project."

JP stated that the Sanders HQ in Caspoli was gone, "Well, Bernie's campaign is over. He hasn't got a chance. So why would they waste money on land?" JP was a little unhappy with them over the earlier accusations about their Trump Wall trying to infect people with a computer virus, "My friend was putting up endless signs to get them to apologize for saying she tried to infect people with a virus over the whole teleport thing. In the Bernie group they sent a notice saying they were closing partly due to 'ongoing harassment.' Well I'm sorry if asking for an apology for defaming remarks is harassment in her book, good riddance. ... I am sure even yourself would feel injustice of being accused of such things when you were merely attempting to engage in friendly banter." When I mentioned the "less than friendly banter, thrown around by members of both parties," JP responded, "Sure is, but one cannot control what others do. All one can do is aspire to fight a clean fight by ones words and actions. And I assure you I have done just that in real life and Second Life. I have played by the rules and punched above the belt."

Dropping by the Caspoli sim, the Sanders HQ location was indeed gone, the area now an unspoiled beach instead of a monument to what might have been. But heading to "Feel the Bern" at Young (162/26/2018), the location was still up. Somehow, the sign "I assure you, we're open" sign seemed a little more prominent. When I contacted the owner, Addie Tozz, she would only respond that she would continue to support Sanders.

Following my interview with her, Candace Larganta informed me there was a new Clinton HQ that had gone up, this one in Bay City, at (Argos 36, 253, 25). Dropping by, it was a two-story brick building. On the inside was a podium where someone could give a speech to a small crowd, with American and Bay City flags on either side of the stage. To the right were givers for free Clinton T-shirts, both men's and women's, and campaign signs for Clinton and "Dump Trump." Upstairs there was a simpler stage with a Clinton campaign poster behind it that looked a tad propagandish.

Across the street, it was clear a Trump supporter was out to "irritate the Hillary people." Someone had set up a huge (or is that huuuge) "Trump: Make America Great Again" sign. But later on, one of Bay City's residents showed me a picture that showed the locals were more than capable of matching the Trump supporters jabs with their own humor: "Cheese: Make America Grate Again."

So what else will the Trump supporters do in Bay City? We're "nacho" sure.

Stay tuned for more political news in Second Life as one of the more unique US Presidential elections in recent history is reflected in the virtual world.

Sources: Flavorwire

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More on the Clinton HQ

By Bixyl Shuftan

In early June, it was discovered that the Trump Manor and HQ in the Lionheart Ahadi sim was gone, later discovered to have moved. In it's place was a different building supporting Trump's opponent: Hillary Clinton. The building had been set up by Candace Larganta (candacelarganta). Eventually, an interview was arranged, and Candace and I sat down to talk.

"How did you find out about Second Life?" I asked her.

"Well, I heard about it around 2004," Candance answered, "but I didn't have a powerful enough computer at that time. And then a few years back, a friend said I should revisit it, especially in regards to the animatic capabilities. I'm involved with film production and run a post=production company in real life, mostly editorial for film and music videos. So, we'd come to SL to make basic backgrounds for green screens. Windlight is perfect for that. It's fast and easier to use, at least for me, than creating something in after effects."

"Eventually, we moved off of Second Life, and now do animatics on an OpenSim server at work. So, I never really started here to socialize, but to create. I've seen some wonderful things here -- very beautiful and inspiring. That's kind of it."

"How did you get the idea to build this location?" I asked.

"I'm an active gamer and 3D environment enthusiast," she told me, "and read Wagner James Au's blog. That's how I found the Trump sim. I visited a few times, and even participated in the 'raid' from the nearby sim. It was in Kotaku. A couple weeks back, I wnated to revisit. But the Trump site was gone. Seeing that Bernie and Trump had something of a presence, although it's quite a small number in regards to the total SL population, I wanted to do something for Hillary supporters. It was just too good to pass up this opportunity and stake a claim, especially since their was the Trump TP landmark in all the blogs. And the first rule of campaigning is never move your URLs or landmarks. (laughter) Obviously, that not really into Trump. I'm guessing it's a RP type of thing."

"How long did it take to build this location?" I asked about the build.

"A matter of hours," Candace answered, "and I've been dressing it up since.I do a lot of building in OpenSim, so it's easy to set up." "Was anything difficult at all?" "As far as set up? No, no dificulties actually."

I then asked, "I take it after the place went up, there was no shortage of confused visitors?"

"Still they arrive," Candace told me, then laughed a bit, "It seems half of them are very pleased that it's a Hillary site, and the other half are bewildered. My goal was to make a place to find info - and I'm still creating informational boards, and redirect those interested to real-life resources." "Basic information about the candidate?" "Yes, but more importantly to stake a presence. After all, it may be a better use of my resources to donate the 'rent' from this site to the Clinton campaign. Yet, I still think it's important to have a presence here."

While she talked, I panned around, looking inside the building. There was an office with pictures and campaign posters on the upper floor, and something else, "It does certainly draw attention ... I notice a few rooms besides the main one, including a kitchen and a ... computer server room?" That, I felt, would get people thinking of Clinton's email controversy still under investigation by the FBI. This was something I would expect from an anti-Clinton area, not one supporting her.

"Well yes," she answered, "I'm not here to pitch a product, but to show a reality,  that our candidate is human, fraught with flaws, yet still the best choice." She then drew my attention to a build with a "Hillary for Prison" sign, "As you can see, there are some who think she should go to prison for what is essentially, a policy issue, not a criminal infraction. And it's just screwy thinking." "I noticed the building nearby," I commented. Candace giggled, "Yes, JP Trump's monument of creativity. Old Woodbury University assets (Woodbury was a sim with a reputation for harboring griefers years ago). If that's what floats their boat, more power to 'em."

I then brought up, "When I talked to him, and the owners of the Sanders locations, they told me some visitors with opposing views were civil, but they also had their share of griefers. How has it been here?"

"Some have been very cool to speak with," Candace told me, "Quite enjoyable actually; they know they RPing a position. The others are, well, not that interesting... followers, bored people at computers. I think of each avatar as the embodiment of an end-user somewhere out there. I'm not here to debate, however - I'm here to provide a space. I'd much rather use my energy in real-life politicking for that." "So no real problems with griefers?" "They try, I suppose, but I could (care) less, seriously. It means they are thinking about Hillary. I very much doubt that they are even US constituents though. I notice British locations all the time, (and) Americans never use the word 'mate' or 'whilst.' But that's just a hunch." "So you think the ones closest to being griefers are from overseas?" "It's possible. It struck me as odd, that's all. And I think someone had mentioned that JP Trump is based in the UK.I think I read that in Kotaku." "JP did say something about having an Irish background. And one of the flags at the manor was Irish." "Maybe that's it. I don't take them seriously at all. They are roleplaying being Trumpgoons and that's fantastic, keeps them off the streets (grin)."

I then asked, "So with the primary season over, what are your plans for the HQ in the future?"

Candace answered, "We're going to dismantle after July 4 and pop back up around September, or October, when things really get going. Summer is very snoozy." "Labor Day has been when things started to heat up in the past." "Oh yeah, that's a good time, definitely. (It) depends on work commitments for me as well, butit should be easy and quick to set up a new spot." "Any idea where that will be, or here if it's still open?" "I don't know yet - Lionheart is very well run. But it may be better to move elsewhere.. we'll make that determination later on." 

"Can you tell us your plans for after Election Day?" I asked. "I'd have to think that one out. For Second Life, no idea. In real life, a nonstop 24hour celebration of Hillary's win. This is perhaps the most important election in the last 50 years."

"How is this election so more important than the others?" I then asked.

"There is a cultural and class cold war being fought in the US right now," Candace answered, "Ignorance is an outright virtue (for the opposition), as is uncivil behavior. If a majority of Americans choose the path that trump provides - it really calls into question our role as world leaders, thinkers, makers. And I don't think that will help out in matters of economics or security. However, I don't think that a majority of Americans want to go down that road. But if they don't get out the vote - well, then we're sunk into a Presidency that is based on whim rather than rationale. That's frightening."

It was about this time that the interview came to an end, and Candace and I gave each other our goodbyes. Later on, Candace would message me there was a new Clinton HQ in Bay City at Argos (36, 253, 25).

Lionheart Ahadi (151/7/28)

Nixyl Shuftan

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Press Release: "Down But Not Out" Discussion at The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island (Full)

We invite you to attend the symposium and tell your friends about it. In fact, bring them along, especially if they are skeptical about the value of virtual worlds.

See below for details about the presenters and their topics, and join us on the 18th of June as we explore latest approaches in the improvement of quality of life for people with mental illness.

SATURDAY June 18, 2016
Times listed are US Pacific Daylight Time/Second Life Time.

8:30am - Brain Mechanism Linking Stress and Illness, Dr. Vanja Duric
Significant research evidence suggests that psychological and physical stress is a powerful driving force behind both the etiology of and comorbidity between psychiatric and systemic disorders. This is supported by clinical observations that psychiatric symptoms and mental illness are commonly present in patients with chronic systemic diseases. Indeed, mood disorders such as depression are present in up to 50% of these patients, often resulting in impaired physical recovery and more complex treatment regimen. Here we will discuss the recent physiological evidence linking chronic stress and systemic illness, such as activation of the immune response system and release of common inflammatory mediators. Finally, discovery of new drug targets is needed for development of better treatments for stress-related psychiatric illnesses as well as improvement of mental health aspects of different systemic diseases.

Presenter Bio:
Dr. Duric is an Assistant Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Des Moines University in Iowa (US) where he is doing neurobiology research on brain events that underlie pathophysiology and treatment of mental illnesses, especially major depressive disorder (MDD). His primary focus is investigating the relationship between the inhibition of a major cellular signaling pathway that is involved in neuronal survival and development of depression. Dr. Duric is also interested in brain mechanisms that link depression and other neurological or systemic illnesses, such as chronic pain.

10:00am - Understanding the Emotional Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis, Andrea Arzt
Although Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a physical disability, it can have emotional consequences.  Initially, a newly diagnosed individual goes through an emotional grieving process. As the disease progresses and nerve cells in the brain become demyelinated, the damage can cause emotional changes. Additionally, some MS medications can affect emotions. Treating the emotional aspects of MS is as important as dealing with the physical health issues.

Presenter Bio:
Andrea Arzt, LCSW is Associate Vice President of Clinical Programs and Direct Services for the New York City-Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society (US). She has worked for over 25 years with individuals with chronic illness and disabilities and their families.  Her special interest has been in working with people living with neurological diseases and injuries, with a focus for the past 13 years on Multiple Sclerosis.  In her current position at the National MS Society, she works closely with health care professionals who treat people with MS, and with MS researchers. She provides trainings on MS and psychosocial and emotional issues for professionals and as well as for people living with MS, and she develops programs for families and caregivers.

11:30am - Hippocrates Wept: Psychologically Surviving Modern Medicine During A Health Crisis, Colleen Crary, M.A. (SL: Anya Ibor)
So, you have an illness, and you think modern medicine can help. Think again: Often, fixing one medical problem can cause, multiply, or magnify other health issues. The stress over facing one’s mortality, the financial burden of illness, and the psychological effects of some
medications can be overwhelming. Learn how to psychologically navigate a profit-driven, “patient last” health care system before and during a health crisis. Take control over your care per your unique physiology and psychology.

Presenter Bio:
Colleen Crary is Anya Ibor in Second Life. A PTSD expert and advocate, Colleen/Anya is a tireless champion for international mental health policy and common sense solutions. Founder and CEO of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, she promotes care for all PTSD sufferers, their families, friends, and clinicians, war veterans, law enforcement personnel, emergency response workers, those traumatized by sexual abuse, child abuse, torture, human trafficking, hostage events and crime, man-made and natural disasters, and physical, psychological, and verbal trauma.

1:00pm - The ABCs of DBT, Rienna Rieko
What is DBT? DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the 1980's to help people who struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder. The therapy mixes Zen Buddhist ideologies with Cognitive Behavior Therapy. While it was designed for people with a very specific disorder, the skills DBT teaches, such as learning how to be more present in today using Mindfulness techniques, learning how to be more effective in the area of Interpersonal Effectiveness, learning how to end suffering by engaging in Radical Acceptance, Improving the Moment and how to Distract and Self Soothe when life isnt easy, are useful for anyone in any set of circumstances.

Presenter Bio:
Rienna Rieko has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and worked as a sober companion for a substance abuse treatment facility that specializes in Amino Acid protocols. In her time there, she used Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills with her clients and taught them how to put them into practice. She has used DBT in her own life for ten years and enjoys teaching the skills to everyone she knows because everyone can benefit from learning how to use them.

2:30pm - Faith & Health: Research, Clinical Applications, and Resources, Dr. Harold Koenig
Religion and spirituality play a role in coping with illness, loss and trauma. Dr. Koenig will review research on the relationships between religion, spirituality and mental health, with a focus on depression.  His research led to development of a proposed spiritually-oriented psychotherapy for the treatment of moral injury in veterans and active duty military with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Dr. Koenig will also speak about research on religion/spirituality and physical health, with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.  He will explain how religious involvement positively influences health in monotheistic religious traditions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).  He will explore applications to clinical practice, and describe his current study to integrate spirituality into patient care in outpatient physician practices.

Presenter Bio:
Dr. Koenig is Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health and Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, Georgia, US. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Health, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, People’s Republic of China. Dr. Koenig has published extensively in the fields of mental health, geriatrics, and religion, and his research on religion, health and ethical issues in medicine has been featured in popular journalism. His latest book is Health and Well-being in Islamic Societies. Dr. Koenig has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the benefits of religion and spirituality on public health.

4:00pm - Mental Health Outreach in Second Life: Past, Present, and Future, Dr. Tammy Fletcher (SL: Avalon Birke)
We will look back on a decade of mental health resources in Second Life – where we have been, where we are now, and some goals for the future. What worked, what didn’t, and ways we can continue to offer quality, ethical support for SL residents.

Presenter Bio:
Tammy Fletcher is Avalon Birke in Second Life, founder of Wellness Island (2006-2011), Second Life’s first sim devoted entirely to mental health resources for residents. As one of the first practitioners to bring mental health resources into Second Life in 2006, Dr. Fletcher has worked to help SL residents become educated consumers, and to bridge to RL services when needed. She founded “Guiding Lights,” a formal program of instruction for peer counselors in Second Life, and established gridwide “SOS” kiosks for residents needing RL emergency referrals anywhere in the world. In her real life, Dr. Fletcher is an author, educator, advocate, and licensed psychotherapist. She maintains an active private practice, where she specializes in treating anxiety and depressive disorders from an integrative perspective. Dr. Fletcher has been featured twice in programs by SL machinimist Draxtor Despres, discussing mental health and advocacy in a virtual environment.

5:00pm - Poetic Reflections
This will be a welcome change of pace, a presentation of poetry written by talented individuals, exploring at the human aspect of living with mental illness.

6:00pm - Lifestyle Medicine and Supplementation for Mental Health and Psychiatric Disorders, Dr. Jerome Sarris

An examination of the use of nutraceutical supplements in mental health treatment.

Presenter Bio:
As an NHMRC Clinical Senior Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Sarris has a particular interest in anxiety and mood disorder research pertaining to complementary and lifestyle medicine, nutraceuticals, and integrative mental health. Author of numerous publications and recipient of significant research grants, Dr. Sarris advocates for an integrative approach to mental health through evidence-based use of lifestyle modification, psychological techniques, and both complementary and standard pharmacotherapy.

7:30pm - The National Disability Insurance Scheme - Supporting Australians Living With Mental Health Issues, Louse Dibbs and Lyn Ainsworth
Australia has made an extraordinary commitment to major social reform with the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – Australia’s response to its commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. The associated reforms shift support from a welfare model to an entitlement or rights based model, and are designed to provide greater choice and control for people with disabilities, and better personal outcomes. However, the road to having mental illness recognised and well supported under the scheme has not been straightforward. After a period of discourse and advocacy during the trial site stage, people living with a Psychological or Psychiatric Diagnosis, as their primary disability, have been recognised as entitled to supports. This means that people with recurring, chronic or significant long term mental health issues have access to resources to develop holistic support plans that foster better long term personal outcomes. HWNS has been a lead provider in the NDIS launch site in the Hunter Region, NSW, Australia where we have supported more than 400 people to transition to the scheme. A significant number of these people have a Psychological or Psychiatric Diagnosis  as their primary or only disability.  We will present two case studies to demonstrate the enhanced possibilities and outcomes the NDIS is providing as a result of access to holistic planning and the implementation of individualised supports.

Presenter Bio:
About Louise Dibbs:
Louise has had a 15 year journey working in the community sector, commencing as a frontline worker, progressing to supervisory roles and finally most recently in senior management.  Louise also has several years experience in the corporate/business sector as a Human Resource professional which has embedded a strong customer experience ethos in her work. She has a Master of Arts in Psychology and is a certified trainer and assessor. In the past 3 years Louise has been working for House with No Steps in one of the key National Disability Insurance Schemes launch sites, in the Hunter region. Louise has worked with teams to transition approx. 400 participants to the Scheme. Louise's interests and work passions include Human Rights, organisational change, mentoring/coaching, developing individuals and teams, influencing and leading, and  designing systems. Outside of work, Louise enjoys anything active or travel related, with her husband and three teenage daughters.

About Lyn Ainsworth:
Ms Lyn Ainsworth, Head of Strategy, Excellence & Innovation at House with No Steps has 18 years executive management experience in the disability sector, including her current role with House with No Steps, one of Australia’s largest disability services non-government organisations. HWNS has been at the forefront of the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Australia’s response to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability, and extraordinary social reform. Lyn is a lawyer by background and has supported organisational transformation around Human Rights as well as having leadership responsibility for HWNS’ international accreditation with the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL).