German authorities are investigating child porn on Second Life. Second Life, for those few who may not have heard of it, is like a computer game (they call it, rather grandly, a “virtual world”) wherein you are represented by an onscreen figure, or avatar. You have a great deal of choice as to how to represent yourself, and some choose to represent themselves as children. Virtual sex between child and adult avatars is nothing new, being a sub category of ageplay, the technical term for choice of a radically different aged avatar from the player, typically that of a child, and for interactions between such avatars and avatars representing adults. What makes this newsworthy is two things; first, the Germans are pursuing it because even virtual child sex is a crime there, and secondly because someone participating in this virtual scene was offering pornography featuring actual child sex. I don’t know how rigorously the Germans pursue virtual pedophiles, but Second Life serving as a conduit for actual child porn moves things from the grey area of what is ultimately just a game, and puts it clearly in the ugly reality of First Life.
Slashdot had a posting titled “Is Virtual Rape a Crime”, inspired by a posting in a Wired blog. The posting acknowledged that there was something a bit suspect about the story of the Belgian police investigating a virtual rape in Second Life, possibly an April Fool’s joke, but both the posting and the Slashdot discussion are interesting reading. I don’t play Second Life, as I find First Life to be sufficiently time consuming, but I gathered from the Slashdot discussion that virtual rape is virtually impossible to do in Second Life, since scripted actions involving two avatars require the consent of both players. In this regard Second Life may be an improvement on First Life, but — while many may try — you can’t as yet upload yourself fully into it, so complete immigration is not an option. Attempting it could kill you.
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An interesting old piece of technology is the classic Japanese sword, or Katana. TV and the movies have created a widespread impression that it’s the most wonderful sword ever created, but Wikipedia has an interesting article delving into the weapon’s history, which serves to deglamourize the subject.
However, you have to wonder if Japanese sword smiths ever made a katana as crappy as the ones you can buy on the Home Shopping Network for $44.95: