Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Steampunk Internet

Internet from YouKinetoscope...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Victorian Culture: Transcendentalism




Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement derived from Immanuel Kant’s attempt to explain why Newton’s laws so perfectly described the physical world. Kant thought the human mind itself imposed patters such as space and time, cause and effect, or action and reaction on the world; Newton’s theories would always be true because they were hardwired into people’s minds, so it was to observe anything that contradicted anything them. But what things were like before human minds went to work on them was unknowable. Kant called this hidden realm the noumenal world, and world known to science the phenomenal world. Kant thought there was a transcendental ego that turned the unknowable noumena into phenomena, but that this ego itself was unknowable.



"Image" of a female spirit

American philosophers such as Emerson and Thoreau, influenced by Kant’s ideas and those of other German philosophers, and also by Christian mysticism and Hindu beliefs, tried to find ways to be aware of the noumenal world and the transcendental ego – not through the method of science, but through meditation or the link. Ancient Hindu thinkers attributed amazing powers ("siddhis") to sages who had attained such insight; since they had seen behind the veil of illusion that was the world, they could reshape that illusion.

Slate Ouiji board used for divination

Stoddard, W.H. (2000) - Gurps Steampunk, pg. 108, SJG:Austin
[edited for removal of game specific content]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pirates: Migration



I have been asked by a couple of individuals, "What's up with the whole pirate thing you're doing?" Well, I had hoped to develop comparisons between classic pirates and sky pirates, but I may have gone a bit too.. overboard (lol)! As such, I will continue postings on pirates, but they will be located on the Antiquity Gazette website (hyperlink on left). I'm confident they will be useful there

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Poll: Best Recent Steampunk Movie

Returning back to Steampunk for a bit, I was wondering what would be considered the most popular Steampunk movie of the past 15 years? I'm certain that the opnions will vary (lol), but if your favorite movie isn't listed, please feel free to annotate it in the comments section, and I will count it at the end of the survey. I'm afraid due to rl time constraints, I cannot provide a description of each movie, but I have annotated the Wiki & IMDb listing for each movie..

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, feel free to choose...




City of Lost Children (1995)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_lost_children
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112682/





Wild, Wild West (1999)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Wild_West
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120891/




Steamboy (2004)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steamboy
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0348121/




Van Helsing (2004)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Helsing_%28film%29
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338526/




The Prestige (2006)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prestige_%28film%29
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0482571/




The Golden Compass (2007)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/His_Dark_Materials:_The_Golden_Compass
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0385752/

Monday, August 20, 2007

Antiquity Grand Opening, Part I



Display at the Visitor's Center in the Township

(This is about two weeks behind schedule in the "Voyages" blog, but here is the entire post, as opposed to a simple link. Part II will be available as soon as I have processed the remainder of the pictures by the residents.)

The Grand Opening of Antiquity was a smashing success! Promptly starting at 2pm SLT, larger than expected crowds started to arrive at the Visitor’s Center, where they were greeted and shown about the location – information about Antiquity, Victorian gestures/bows, era-specific clothes, and other topics of interest.



Greeting the guests



Inside the Visitor's Center

Geisha Performance
At the Getsuei Okiya in Antiquity Cove, I had the opportunity to see the lovely geishas entertaining the audience, with Miss Koyomi playing the Koto, and Miss Mimiru (Lavender), Miss Usher (red), and Miss Ratza (black), a soothing respite from the hustle and bustle of the Township.



Geisha Lavania Usher posing in front of the Okiya



Overhead shot of the Getsuei Okiya and adjoing bridge to the artist's display



Miss Koyomi playing the Koto, with Miss Mimiru and Usher performing a nihon-buyoh (Traditional Japanese dance) for the patrons

Miss Mimiru & Miss Usher performing on stage

Art display
Six artists were generous enough to display their works in the central island at Antiquity Cove. (I shall add further details on their displays in part II of the Grand Opening celebrations)



Balloon rides/Games
The northern border of the Cove, just south of Doolittle Park, visitors were able to engage in a great number of games, from board games to a dunking machine... and if hungry, indulge in refreshment from the local vending cart (soda and "hot dogs")!



An early shot of the games of skill & chance at the Grand Opening

Horse Race
Miss Virriginia Tombola coordinated this event, with substantial help from Miss Artesia Beaumont. Both of these ladies expended significant effort in locating, assisting the riders with their steeds, explaining the route, and addressing certain emergent technical issues to ensure the steeple race took place.



Miss Tombola preparing for the race...

It was a hard fought race, but in the end, Miss Gustafson, an experienced equestrienne from Caledon, emerged victorious from the pack of riders, winning the grand prize of a Stanhope carriage, courtesy of Miss Tombola and La Bicyclette.


... and informing Miss Gustafson about her successful ride

Music Park Concert
Miss Paisly Beebe filled the Antiquity music park, entertaining all present with her smoothly melodic voice singing the classics eloquently.



Miss Beebe beginning her performance at the Antiquity Music Park

Continuing her performance, Miss Beebe dazzles the audience with her silky voice and amazing singing skills

Ball / Dinner
Event tents were set up just outside the Grand Ballroom, providing fine dining for guest and residents alike, professionally catered by The Arbor.




Reception booth provided by the Arbor

Hosted by DJ Mitsu, it was a very enjoyable event, with citizenry from Caledon, New Babbage, and numerous other sims joining the residents of Antiquity in a formal dance in the Grand Ballroom of the Township. A classical selection of music for the event enhanced the atmosphere, directly leading to the success of the our first (of many) engagements!
[ahem.. I don't have any pictures of the ball - I was otherwise engaged socializing (lol). If anyone wishes to contribute photographs, please send them to me in-world, or via my email at rafael_fabre at yahoo dot com]

Fireworks / Conclusion
After the ball, guests and residents were directed to the southeast corner of the township, where a fireworks show was put on display for all present. An impressive event (my first in SL), it was a cavalcade of color and explosions to close a thoroughly enjoyable and successful Grand Opening to the Antiquity Township and Cove sims.



Miss Beaumont strikes a dramatic pose at the beginning of the fireworks display

We had fireworks...


... more fireworks....


...more...


... and more...


... and the evening was closed out by Grand Duke Barrymore giving a speech, thanking all involved in planning and executing the activities for the celebration and all of the guests and residents for attending our Grand Opening.

Pirates: Fighting Ships (RL & SL)



Speculaas Brigantine (with dramatic coloring! - lol!)

Size matters…

The size of the pirate ship was important. Large ships could ride out storms better than small ships, but they were less maneuverable and harder to clean. Movies usually show pirates sailing large ships such as galleons, because they look so impressive, but in fact, pirates favored small ships such as sloops, because they were fast and easy to maintain. Also, a small ship could sail into shallow water or hide among sandbanks to evade capture from a larger vessel.
The largest pirate ship to sail the Spanish Main was Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, the only pirates with anything comparable in size and force were Bartholomew Roberts, William Moody, and Henry Avery.

[Being as Antiquity has expanded with four water sims, and as I have heard a bit about some possible combat taking place, I decided to review a number of the Chase Speculaas ships, which are combat enabled and are quite popular. {Disclaimer – I do own and use this class of ship, along with other nautical vessels, however this article is not an endorsement of these vessels} Additionally, some descriptions vary between rl & sl, but are completed due to sl use-of-vessel limitations. Even if it huge in RL, size considerations will modify the ship for playability purposes in SL].


The Mujer Vieja

Brigantine ("The Mujer Vieja", "Brigantine")

The Brigantine (or brig) was commonly used in coastal American trading. IT has two masts, with a square rigged mainmast and a mizzenmast with a fore-and-aft rigged mainsail and a square rigged topsail. Brigs were up to eighty (80) feet long, weighed about 150 tons, and could carry a hundred men and ten cannons. The brig was a very versatile vessel: the square rigging made it good at sailing in quarter winds, while with the fore-and-aft rigging it excelled when sailing to windward. Captain Hook’s vessel in Peter Pan, the Jolly Roger, is a brigantine
Mr. Speculaas has two versions of the Brigantine, with his new version being the "Mujer Vieja".


Schooner ("Pirate Ship")

This vessel had two masts which were usually both fore-and-aft rigged. It had a shallow draft, drawing only about five feet of water, so it could easily hide out in shallow water. It had a narrow hull and with a favorable wind, could streak through the water at a speed of almost twelve (12) knots. Its main drawback was a lack of hold space, which limited travel range and the amount of plunder it could carry. It weighed about 100 tons, had eight cannons, and needed about seventy-five crew. One of the most famous pirate vessels of fiction, the Hispaniola, which appears in Robert Louis Steveson’s Treasure Island, was a schooner.



Junk ("Red Dragon")

The universal maritime vessel in the Far East, the junk was originally developed during the Han dynasty and became the longest-serving ship in human history. Junks were fast and highly maneuverable. The largest pirate junks were over 100 feet long with four masts, but most were smaller and with one or two masts. Rigging was simple, reducing the number of ropes required. Other notable features included a high stern, a flat bow, and an adjustable rudder. Pirate junks had swivel guns called lantaka.


Sloop ("Combat Sloop")

During the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, the sloop was the most popular pirate vessel. It was a single-masted ship rigged fore-and-aft with a main sail and a single foresail, or jib. It carried a vast amount of sail relative to its size, making it very fast. Records of pirate attacks in the Caribbean and North American coast between 1710 and 1730 shows that over half were carried out by pirates in sloops; forty-five percent involved ships and only fifteen percent involved brigs, brigantines, and schooners.



Crumster ("Combat Barge")

There was a variation of a ship called the "Hoy"; it lacked speed but could carry lots of loot and the gun deck could carry up to sixteen guns. It had three masts, with the mizzenmast carrying a lanteen or gaff sail. The crumster could be used as a warship to protect a fleet of galleons. (The Speculaas version isn’t exactly a crumster, but it does have the appropriate speed (slow) and guns (numerous) to somewhat qualify.)
http://www.slexchange.com/modules.php?name=Marketplace&file=item&ItemID=59849
Carpenter, J.R. (2006), Pirates, Scourge of the Seas, pgs 90-106;
Barnes & Noble [Gusto:China]



ARRRGGG! Bring on your worst comments!

Well, if one is willing to publish, one has to take the barbs... I'm looking forward to comments and suggestions about this entry (lol)!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pirates: Crewmembers II



Pirates in pursuit of a merchant vessel

To complete the series ...




Captain Kidd takes a smoke on the deck of the Adventure

Carpenter / Surgeon
A surgeon was a rare catch on any ship, and in practice it was usually the ship’s carpenter who performed this duty, because he was the only one with the tools of the trade, namely a saw for performing amputations. The boatswain was on hand with a red-hot axe to cauterize the wounds, and the sail maker would do the suturing.
The carpenter was responsible for keeping the ship’s hull and mast sound. In the heat of battle, he and his team would shore up leaks and patch holes. After an empty ship has been captured, the carpenter performed a speed inspection before deciding whether the prize was seaworthy



The Bounty sailing in the Pacific

Cooper
Since food, drink, and many other supplies such as lamp oil and gunpowder were stored in wooden barrels, the skill of barrel making was vital to the wellbeing of the crew. His vigilance ensured that the barrels were kept as air- or water-tight as possible. To save space, barrels were assembled and dismantled as required.




Walter Mattew and Cris Carpenter in Pirates

Boatswain
The daily maintenance and inventory of ship’s supplies, from tar and tallow to sails and tackle, was managed by the boatswain. He was the most experienced sailor on board, and his expert knowledge of the rigging and sails meant the difference between life and death.
Master Gunner
The master gunner maintained the ship’s cannons and ensured that the gunpowder was kept safe and dry. He trained the teams of men who operated the cannons and kept them battle ready.




A pirate smoking a pipe

Cook
This position was often taken by a member of the crew who had gained a severe battle injury that prevented him from performing other more demanding duties. Preparing palatable meals when the ship’s food quickly became rotten within a few weeks into a voyage was a tough challenge.



Walter Matthew as a pirate captain

Musicians
Anyone who could play an instrument was a valuable member of the crew. Musical entertainment was important to boos morale and to relieve boredom. Jigs and nautical shanties were well-liked and loud martial music was played during battle
Carpenter, J.R. (2006), Pirates, Scourge of the Seas, pgs 46-47;
Barnes & Noble [Gusto:China]

The Pride & Prejudice winner is....



The 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice!

OK, it wasn't close at all... of the 26 votes placed, 21 (80%) voted for this version, with the remaining votes going to the 1940 version (2 votes - 7%) and the recent movie (2 votes - 7%), and one to the 1980 BBC television show (1 vote - 3%). And yes, that isn't 100%, but the polls show it winning dramatically, so it wouldn't be as if a recount would be necessary (lol)!

After speaking with a few individuals, it seems as if this version was truer to the original novel, and had less emphasis upon the lascivious aspects of relationships, as the 2005 movies was supposed to have (ty Mr. Pearse, Miss Yao), spending more time recounting the story instead.

A great thank you to all who participated, with a heartfelt thanks to the Jane Austen Society of Second Life for participating in the poll - your enlightened opinions were sincerely appreciated!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pirates: Crewmembers, Part 1



Pirate flag of Captain "Calico" Jack

Every man had/has a job on board a ship, but certain jobs are critical... here is a brief overview of a couple positions...

Sailing a ship required an experienced team of men. Apart from the ordinary pirate crew, there were several important posts upon which the crew's success and survival depended upon.


Captain Blackbeard, in action
Captain
A few captains such as Blackbeard ruled their crew with the brutality and ruthlessness that was customary in the Navy, but on the whole, the captain was elected by a majority vote and only remained in command by his own merit. According to Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates, the only time a captain's position was secure was when "fighting, chasing, or plunder, or being chased", or if he lost the faith of the majority of the crew, he could quickly find himself voted out of his position.

The captain's main perk was that he received the greatest share of the booty, but in other respects he was like everyone else. For example, the captain had the best sleeping quarters, but any member of the crew supposedly was allowed to enter his room, eat off his plate, and sleep in his bed.

Captains who consistently led pirate sorties and brought back happy, wealthy shipmates gained the reputation of being "pistol proof". This reputation would guarantee them a good supply of willing and skilled recruits.



A Navigational Astrolabe

Navigator
Know on board as the "artist", the navigator knew the strange art of setting the ship's course and plotting its whereabouts using maps; mathematics; and (to the rest of the crew) mysterious instruments such as the compass, the "bring-'em-near (telescope), and the astrolabe (to calculate the altitude's of the sun and stars).

Good navigators were a rarity and a navigator's sea charts were his most prized possession. A skilled navigator could bring a ship within a few miles upwind of its destination, so that it could drift downwind into port. Arriving off the coast a few miles downwind could be a disaster. In 1720, Bartholomew Roberts was a few miles off the coast of West Africa, but couldn't beat prevailing trade winds to reach his destination, so had to turn around and sail across the Atlantic back to South America before making a second attempt.


Preparations to board a ship by the Quartermaster
Quartermaster
Elected by the crew, the quartermaster was technically the second-in-command, but he supervise the daily running of the ship. Because it was his job to settle disputes and make sure that the captain's orders were carried out, he had to be one of the toughest men on the ship. He was also the trial judge responsible for meting out punishment for minor offences. If a serious offence was committed, the crew and captain acted as jury with the quarter master as judge. He was also usually the only crew member who could administer a flogging, following the majority vote of a crew.

The quartermaster led the boarding party when raiding a captured ship and took charge of dividing up the plunder after a raid, ensuring that each man received what had been set down in the articles of conduct - a skill that nevertheless required a mixture of diplomacy and unchallenged authority.

Carpenter, J.R. (2006), Pirates, Scourge of the Seas, pgs 48-51;
Barnes & Noble [Gusto:China]

Steampunk Implications:
Captain - Even though pirating would be rough affair in the future, a captain would need more that what would be traditionally necessary for a captain to be successful (e.g. a track record of bringing in loot). He/she would have to be technically competent to run a skyship, and probably most vexing would be where repairs would be performed on the vessel. It wouldn't be a simple matter of beaching a ship and scraping off barnacles, but potentially a complex and dangerous maintenance effort with steam and pipe systems (and this isn't' even considering quality assurance issues - lol)!
Coupled with this, would be where to obtain crew members who could meet the array of technical skills necessary to perform the duties of a Steampunk skyship. You might be able to recruit individuals to join a pirate crew, but it would appear that the majority of individuals would have to be pressed into service, especially if their KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) were in demand. The fact the economic picture of the "golden age" of pirates was so poor motivated men to join the nautical services could be replicated, but retaining highly skilled individuals on board what is essentially a "ship full of felons (albeit partying sky-flying felons), might prove challenging.
However, if the captain was a privateer, this would answer a number of problems easily. His (her) background could provide for professional military education (e.g. sky ship aero tactics), repairs could be done at the country of origin (or an ally), and the crew could be those discharged from the national navy. In that picture, a piratical captain would seem to fit a logical background.
Of course, you could have a captain through PFM (Pure F..[antastic] Magic), and not worry about any of the previously mentioned considerations!
Navigator - A skilled professional, he/she would have to be just as competent as his nautical brethren, although he/she'd have access to Steampunk navigational aids, (e.g. better sighting tools, mechanical calculating machines for determining position, ect...), along with support systems, technical (e.g. support for the navigational equipment) and training (e.g. teaching individuals how to use them - he/she can't teach everyone)!
Quartermaster - This position proved difficult to address. In the rl, the quartermaster is a specialized rate (job) that is responsible for keeping track of on board goods. I would lean towards believing this specialization on board a skyship also - if you needed something quickly, you'd want to have someone who could find it quickly, especially in tight quarters. Therefore, I'd assume that there would be either 1) someone else who could lead shipboard assaults on defeated enemies in the skies (e.g. someone from the weapons department)... assuming the prize ship doesn't crash and burn, or 2) the quartermaster is pretty damned tough, and expendable (lol)!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Sweeney Todd 2007 Fan Trailer

Well, it is an unofficial fan trailer, but it is the first I heard about this movie... (the original source was the News from Bardhaven [http://bardhaven.wordpress.com/2007/08/07/swing-your-razor-high/#more-576]

Pirates: How to become one!



Pirate musician entertaining the crew...

Pirates came from all nationalities and background, but during the golden age of piracy, most were Welsh. There were many Irish and English pirates, few Scots. French and Spanish pirateering was widespread. There were also a lot of runaway black slaves, know as "Cimarron" (Spanish for maroon), and there were several famous black pirates, such as Diego Grillo and Lauren de Graff.



Replica of a Pirate town

Pirates recruited crews both on land and at sea. On land, a pirate captain would let it be known that his ship was "going on the account", and those interested in joining would sign on voluntarily. Their decision would be based on the reputation of the captain; if he was a man renowned for returning from his excursions with rich pickings, he would have no shortage of willing volunteers. Recruits had to bring their own weapons: at the very least a pistol, black powder and shot, and a sword. Men with additional weapons were in demand Shipmates who were musicians, or who had skills such as carpentry and cooperage, were even more desirable, and were often seized by pirates and forced to join the crew.



Pirate cooper (or just one carrying a cask of rum (lol)!)

At sea, men were recruited from seized ships. Whenever pirates took control of a ship, the common sailors were given the choice of joining. Any who did so immediately became marked men, but at least they escaped the harsh naval or merchant life for the promise of riches and greater personal freedom. However, many sailors made it appear as if they were being taken against their will, so if caught by authorities at a later date, they could plead innocence. They were made to sign "shipboard articles of conduct", a set of pirate rules. This document could also be presented to prove coercion.
Carpenter, J.R. (2006), Pirates, Scourge of the Seas, pgs 46-47;
Barnes & Noble [Gusto:China]



Steampunk Airship Pilot (by Mr.Xgabe, conceptart.org)

Steampunk Implications: Well, many of the people in the sub-genre (Steampunk / Sky Pirates) have both male and female individuals manning the ship, so an argument could be made for either sex joining a piratical crew. Nationality may not be an issue (rl or sl), but absconding with persons of useful skills (e.g. physicians, damage control persons, engineering rates, ect...) would make perfect sense, and translate over directly.