Stuck in the real world

My real-life house is getting decorated at the moment, one consequence of which is that my desktop computer, with its fancy graphics card, is packed away in a box under the dust sheets. I can access the internet on my old laptop, but I’ll be exiled from the grid until the paint is dry.

My trusty old Toshiba Satellite is a bit slow, even with a stripped-down linux distro (DSL) installed. Its original Pentium processer ticks over at a steady 166MHz, but it really doesn’t have enough memory to run Firefox, which means that web pages can take an age to appear, even over broadband. It’s reminiscent of the old dial-up days in a strangely comforting way though.

Being unable to get into Second Life may be a blessing in disguise, since just wandering around on the grid isn’t really the best way of finding out what is going on anyway. Instead I’ve been reading other SL blogs, which is rather more illuminating, not so much about Second Life itself, but more about the interests and preoccupations of residents, or at least that subset of the population who blog their experiences. I should probably start leaving comments on some of the more interesting blogs, but to be honest getting into any sort of dialogue seems like a bit too much hard work at the moment.

Anyway I’m still a bit distracted by the the Democratic primaries. Opinion seems to be divided about the significance of Clinton’s good showing in the supposedly meaningless Florida vote, though bouncing back after the South Carolina result has to give her some extra momentum ahead of next Tuesday. It’s not clear which way Edwards’ supporters will shift now he’s out of the running, or what effect McCain’s performance in the Republican race will have. I think the latter development may swing people towards Hillary, since she seems better equipped to take McCain on than Obama does. I’m still fairly confident that Hillary will win, both the nomination, and the vote in November.

Carolina Blues

A bit of a setback for the Clinton campaign in South Carolina; I had been expecting that Hillary would have to settle for second place, but the scale of Obama’s victory was a bit worrying. The demographics of SC aren’t typical of the big states that are due to vote next Tuesday though, and the analysis I have read so far makes me think that Hillary is still set to have a commanding lead after that vote, though the race looks like it will go all the way to the wire.

Banking crisis

Reuters have a dedicated Second Life news centre, which is a pretty good way of keeping up with how SL is impacting on the real world. The big story this week is Linden Labs’ ban on unlicensed banking, which came into effect yesterday.

I can’t understand how anyone failed to see the ban coming, especially after LLabs outlawed gambling, since the motivation was exactly the same – LLabs’ desire to avoid falling foul of US law by providing a platform for wire fraud.

I am also struggling to comprehend how anyone could have thought that depositing money in an SL bank was anything other than folly, since a glance at the SL economic statistics reveals that the economy is nowhere near developed enough to support the creation of institutions of finance capital, which means that any “bank” purporting to offer interest on capital was odds-on to be some sort of Ponzi scheme.

On a roll

This blog is evidently more influential than I thought (Technorati ranking of 4,446,976 notwithstanding). Since I endorsed Hillary Clinton’s campaign, there’s been no stopping her. She out-polled Obama 51% to 45% in Nevada (Edwards a distant third with 4%), her support among women and the Hispanic community proving crucial.

South Carolina is difficult to call, but it’s looking good for a clear Clinton lead after Super Tuesday on February 5th.

Still on the campaign trail

Tarissa, commenting on my last post, says that she visited a Barack Obama Second Life site a while back, but I still can’t find it, just a couple of “Obama for President” groups. I checked out the official Barack Obama website, and there’s no mention of an SL presence. Maybe he had one, then closed it when he found out that the Hillary already has SL stitched up.

John Edwards does have an SL “Campaign Central”, but every time I try to go there I get the message that “the system was unable to complete you teleport request in a timely fashion”, which might be a metaphor for his whole campaign.

Nevada is up next, on January 19th. (Actually Michigan is next, on the 15th, but Hillary is the only major candidate on the ballot, the others having withdrawn because the date was moved). Annoyingly there don’t seem to have been any polls in Nevada since December, at which point Hillary had a healthy lead, but obviously things will have changed since then, especially since the influential Nevada Culinary Union have endorsed Obama.

I’m starting to get a bit obsessed with this race. God knows what kind of state I’ll be in by Super-duper Tuesday.

On the campaign trail

After her unexpected victory in New Hampshire I was inspired to visit Hillary’s Second Life campaign headquarters:


There wasn’t a lot going on, but I did pick up a campaign T-shirt, and a “Hillary” yard sign.

I tried to find Obama’s HQ too, but, despite his supposed appeal to youth, he doesn’t seem to have an SL presence.

I’m leaning towards Hillary for the nomination, not because I’m particularly enthralled by her platform (Mike Gravel has the best policies), but because I like her personal qualities, particularly the way she has stood up to years of vilification in the US media and still come out fighting. All the mainstream candidates are hopelessly compromised by their reliance on special interests for campaign funds, but Hillary seems to be the most focussed on some sort of personal vision of what the country should look like, and as such I think she would make the least worst President, of the candidates that are likely to get elected.

It’s all academic anyway, since, like most of the world’s population, I don’t have a vote, even though the outcome of the poll in November will affect my life in a lot of important ways. All the US citizens I have known over the years have been pretty sensible, so I guess I can trust them to make the right decision. Mind you, I thought that 4 years ago…

Time passes

What with the holidays and everything I’ve not been online much in the past couple of weeks, and when I have, I’ve been too busy checking out the predictions for the Iowa Caucuses to waste time in Second Life. Not that anything I read deepened my understanding much – I was confidently predicting to anyone who would listen that Hillary was going to walk it. I still think she’ll get the nomination though.

Anyway, I’ll try to get on the grid a bit more this week, and work up a column for Friday.

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