The Red/Black Game

Warning, this is a long ethical discussion that has nothing to do with Steampunk 🙂 so you may want to skip today’s post if you’re not in the mood.

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The Red/Black Game

Divide the room into 2 teams, team “A” and team “B”

Announce clearly and precisely that the object of the game is to accumulate the maximum number of positive points.

The game is played in a series of rounds. In each round, both teams must decide whether to play Red or Black. They can decide in any manner they want but the decision must be unanimous.

Scoring is as follows:

  • If team A plays black, and team B plays black, both teams get one point.
  • If team A plays black, and team B plays red, team A loses a point and team B gains a point.
  • The reverse is also true: if team A plays red to B’s black, then A gains a point and B loses one.
  • If both teams play red, both teams lose a point.

So as it turns out, there are only two possible choices each turn.

  • You can play black and hope the other team plays black, too. The result each turn is either both teams get a point, or you lose one and the other team gets one.
  • You can play red. When you play red, you either gain a point and the other team loses one, or you both lose a point, so neither side gains.

Every time I run this exercise—and I have been running it for over ten years—one of two results occurs. Either both teams play red from the beginning, or they both start black and one of them plays red two or three turns into it, and both sides play red from then on. I have never seen this game played out when either side ended with a positive total.

Of course, if you go back to the beginning, the object was to accumulate the maximum number of positive points. It was never stated that it was a competition between the two teams. By seeing it that way, they both ended up in the negative.

Every day we face this decision, in our interactions with other people. We live our life the way we play the Red/Black game. Some people bully the rest of the team into playing red. Others want to play black but keep quiet in the interest of not rocking the boat. Others determine that they will only play black with those who play black first.

Game theorists have studied this extensively (in another form known as the Prisoner’s Dilemma). They have determined that for a person to act in their own best interests, they must play “tit for tat”—play black until someone double crosses you, then play red until they have demonstrated they are willing to play black again. And isn’t that how we play it in real life?

The lesson the spiritual and the mystics try to teach is, play black—all black, all the time. Turn the other cheek. Love your neighbor. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Pay it forward. It’s the same message, with religious dogma sprinkled on it, different flavors depending on who raised you.

So we tend to see the world in terms of black and white, good and evil. We’ve seen the Red/Black game models life, but there are three, not two, distinct patterns of behavior represented here:

The first, which I like to call “Good”, is to play black all the time in an altruistic effort to bring everyone eventually up to that level, and constantly increase the total amount of available points, so that everyone benefits as a group. That process is frequently called “Enlightenment.”

The second, which I call “Evil”, games the system to maximize self-interest by either playing red all the time, or playing black until the opportune moment to switch to red. Evil sees points as a scarce commodity and wants to make sure to “win” or gain at the very least their “fair share.”

The third behavior, “Neutral”, is the tit for tat group. Neutrals realize that neither black or red alone are winning strategies. Black get taken advantage of, and red eventually gets persecuted. So they play black as long as it works, and shift into red whenever it is necessary to maintain their game.

It’s my belief that the vast majority of people in the world are playing Neutral and spend a great deal of time convincing ourselves they are Good to avoid having to make the sacrifices that real Good players make. We place people like Mother Teresa on a pedestal and rationalize that they are a one in a million person who could live up to an impossible standard.

People often vilify organized religion, pointing out that with all these churches, synagogues, mosques and temples, the world doesn’t seem to be any more “good” than it was 2,000 years ago. The problem isn’t organized religion, it’s the people who join. I know Christians who have dedicated their lives to helping aids-stricken people in the gay and lesbian communities, and I know other Christians who have dedicated their lives to persecuting those same people. Not all Muslims are suicide bombers. And I know lots of wonderfully spiritual people who won’t step foot into a church.

What I believe happens is that we have a root belief structure, and it’s one of the three mentioned above: Good, Evil or Neutral. When we join a religion or a group, we look for one that is compatible with our root beliefs. And religions tend to have such complicated scriptural and dogmatic systems that it is possible to justify nearly any position by highlighting the verses you like and ignoring the ones you don’t.

The most common example is Colossians 3:18-19 from the Bible.

3:18 reads

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Married men love to throw that one around. But it’s funny how they seem to miss the very next line:

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

At the end of it all, what really matters is the root belief structure. As long as we look at things like race, creed, religion, political party or sexual orientation as a person’s “label”, and let them mask the more important realities, we will never develop the trust and cooperation to move as a society from Neutral to Good.

Published in: on March 26, 2007 at 10:10 am  Comments (44)  

Events for the Weekend of March 23-25

A Day at the Seaside, 12-4 pm SLT at the Caledon on Sea Pier, dress code is period swimwear or casual. Organized by Virrginia Tombola.

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Steam Navigation Lecture, Sun Mar 25 12pm, Sun Mar 25 1:30pm Whitehorn Memorial Library, Victoria City, given by Mr. Senca DeCosta.

“An Inspired Past: the Historically Themed Designs of Betty Doyle” continues through April 15 at the Whitehorn Memorial Library in Victoria City.

Also, the permanent collection of the Caledon art Guild goes on display in Paris 1900 today at the art museum.

Published in: on March 23, 2007 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Caledon Tanglewood

Over the past few weeks, Tanglewood has developed from a pristine forest into a neighborhood with its own unique character. This community is nestled in the shade of enormous trees, with its own kind of neo-victorian style. Several unusual creatures have been spotted with familiar sounding names, as some Caledonians adopt a “double life” of sorts and commune just as easily with the furry and fey denizens of the forest as they do with the “proper” ladies and gentlemen of the Caledon social circuit.

A photo taken by airship, showing the sim as a whole. The majority of the houses remain below the canopy of massive ancient growth trees, with the occasional tree house in sight.

A few of the local inhabitants.

Kind of a Narnia-esque feel, with a lampost in the middle of a forest.

The art gallery of 713 Ayres.

I will keep an eye on Tanglewood and keep you informed of new developments as they occur.

In the meantime, development on the new sim– Steam city– is moving along. The sim lot plan can be seen at the Guv’nah’s Mansion in Victoria City. I managed to locate the sim where the main structures are being assembled, and saw some incredible sights, including a floating city and an airship (a war dreadnought, by the looks of it) a full sim in length. Hopefully I will be able to provide a report soon.

Published in: on March 23, 2007 at 1:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Home Improvement

As much as I love having land in Caledon, building here can be tricky. Victorian design tends to be detailed, with lots of curves. It’s not like modern, where you could technically get away with a 2-prim couch. A simple dining room chair can easily end up 17 prims before even adding a pose to it.

The average lot in Caledon Mayfair seems to be a 2048 m2, which gives you 400-odd prims to work with. However, a perusal of victorian designs on SL exchange shows few below 250 prims.

My initial plan was to build an underground base for a submersible airship. I terraformed down to the very bottom and built it, then used oversize prims to cover it with a lawn. There was an undersea tunnel and a roof hatch. Then I found Chance Takashi’s build. Sigh.

Here are pictures of what I did, before I pulled it out.


Undersea tunnel entrance.


Scripted hatch for aerial vehicles, and the tiny cottage. All the grass shown here was prims over the underground structure.


Control Room with airlock to submersible airship (you can see it though the porthole)


Finally, the Parlor.

Unfortunately, this was it– pushed right up against the prim limit, and then I saw it done somewhere else much better. So I went back to the drawing board.

Then I got lucky. My next door neighbor decided to go in a different direction in SL and I got the opportunity to buy him out. That brought me up to 4096 m2 and the opportunity to do some serious prim damage!

I realized that the undersea base could not grow into what I needed it to be without radical terraforming, and I had no desire to do that to my neighbors. But I still wanted the property to develop into more than another house in a sim. I wanted it to contribute beauty, and character, and atmosphere, and story to Caldeon. I eventually came upon the idea of “Performance role-play”– involving others in acting out vignettes that add to the immersion factor in Caledon. For example, when I simply log on to organize inventory, I sometimes do it in an airship floating leisurely over Victoria City, just to add to the steampunk feel. The concept of the house, then, became that of a headquarters for a secret organization– the Order of the Iron Rose– dedicated to protecting the realm against external and internal threats, scientific, magical or supernatural in nature. I have some fun items, such as 20 meter steam steam-powered robotic avatars, that could be fun to play with. Or perhaps we could chase werewolves through the streets of Caledon. Small things, nothing overly involved or requiring heavy commitment.

So I have done what I think is a nice, comfortable, stately house, with a garden that has an authentic victorian feel. It’s a wonderfully relaxing spot.


Overview of the property. For the moment, the Caledon rail ends here, making it easy for people to hop the train from Victoria City.


Street-level view.


Main Parlor.


Piano, with a great view of the ocean.

More pictures to come in future posts.

Published in: on March 22, 2007 at 9:16 pm  Comments (24)  

Featured Merchant: Edward Pearse

As you can’t walk through Victoria City without tripping over one or two women’s clothing stores, I thought it best to start with something for the gentlemen.

Mr. Pearse, who named his in-world persona after a character from The Great Train Robbery, quickly saw a need for mens’ accessories after joining SL last October. This, combined with his love of things Victorian, inspired him to begin his line of men’s victorian clothing.

Current projects include a line of kilts, as well as upcoming Highland and cavalry uniforms. After that he plans to return to continue to expand his line of everyday attire.

Mr. Pearse currently has locations in Victoria City, Steelhead, and Babbage Square. His blog is located here.

Published in: on March 20, 2007 at 9:11 am  Leave a Comment  

“Around the Grid” on the Caledon Fashion contest

Around the Grid – 2March07

Judging is scheduled to be concluded this week.

Published in: on March 19, 2007 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Chance Takashi’s Home


I found this through the New World Notes blog today. I have been to the upstairs part, including the Jovian Terrarium, but I had no idea what existed under the ruins. Absolutely stunning.

Published in: on March 18, 2007 at 12:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Amy Weber Featured at Caledon Gallery of Art


Amy Weber (713 Ayres in Second Life) is the featured artist this month at the Caledon Gallery of Art, showcasing many pieces created specifically for the Caledon exposition. I stopped by the opening party this Saturday briefly before being lagged to death then dragged back to Real Life by family concerns, but I was there long enough to appreciate the artwork as well as the impressive turnout. Prints are available for sale in SL for Lindens, and the originals are available for sale out in the real world.

From the Artist’s card accompanying the artwork:

ABOUT THE WORK OVERALL: I attempt to make art that has some value in this world beyond a monetary one-to make art that does something about the current problems/issues in the world. If all else fails I like to make work that illustrates the beauty and simplicity of a centered connection with that which is eternal. My miniature paintings are a sort of representation of my internal being/soul/mythos. In a world that seems chaotic and unstable these tiny paintings almost create themselves. Painting them for me, is meditative and spiritual-connecting me to that which is timeless and constant. The mushrooms and houses are symbolic of humanity or consciousness. The space between the objects in the paintings is as important as the objects themselves. The space represents the interconnectedness of all things. If there are absolute or universal images the home seems to resonate powerfully-a perfect representation for our soul.

Miss Weber’s work will be featured all this month. More information can be found at her blog, orion713art, or at her permanent inworld galleries (which I will post as soon as I get WordPress to accept a SLUrl… sheesh).

And I picked up a copy of the clockwork Rhino, by the way.

Published in: on March 18, 2007 at 8:15 am  Comments (2)  

Tea Service at Prancing Harlot

Prancing Harlot Designs is known for their tasteful and beautiful BDSM furniture, but Coyote Momiji, one of its principals, has done a lot of work for Caledon, including many of the starter homes in Mayfair and the Mayfair Train Station.

Sha and Alyssa Jessop have recently released a coffee and tea set that attaches and includes a carry animation for it. Clicking on the teapot, coffee pot or sugar cube dish gives you the appropriate items. The set can also be laid on a table, but make sure you have resources available, as it weighs in at 45 prims for the set.

The set comes in two styles, Chinaberry and Roses (Roses pictured here).

PHD’s main store is located here, and they have another location here.

Published in: on March 15, 2007 at 10:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Launching the Dog

Please be advised that the sidewalks in Caledon Mayfair appear to be situated on private land, rather than public, as the train is. This means that if a resident’s parcel is full, it affects objects or vehicles passing through it. For example, if a VKC dog is in “heel” mode, following its owner, and hits one of these parcels, it will stick to the leading edge of the parcel for a moment before flinging the helpless dog three parcels over.

Poor Archimedes.

Published in: on March 13, 2007 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment