Saturday, October 26, 2013


A little while back, I found myself in Atlantic City, in the Trump Taj Mahal, so I did the only logical thing: I had a drink at a bar. Robert's Steakhouse was having its happy hour, with discounts on a dozen or so cocktails. How could one go wrong with "Robert's Martini"?

I'll confess I was surprised. I enjoy Pernod, Macallan whisky, and Plymouth gin as much as the next debauched Steampunk,… but together? It was proof that, unlike chocolate and peanut butter, sometimes good things are not meant to go with one another.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Return to Mulberry

You exit the dark tunnel to find yourself in a small town. It seems deserted. Walking by crumbling buildings and sagging fences, you judge that no one has cared for the town in quite some time, even if the place appeared to be populated until recently. Next to the school, on the ground, lie body bags, all occupied. As you continue to explore the town, however, you discover that those souls have not departed - not entirely, at least... The school, the rail station, the carnival - all are haunted by those who have met violent deaths. Your unease grows. Is the killer still there?

The Abandoned 001
The first view of town

Mulberry - The Abandoned is a reworking of the haunted town I visited several years ago. The owner and designer, Mr. Lou Mannock, kindly invited me back to see the changes. Whereas much of the action in the old build took place in the woods, here the town is the center of attention.Everywhere where is evidence of ghastly happenings, both in the physical world and beyond.

The Abandoned 003
A less-than-quiet cemetery

Mulberry is open through Nov. 6.

The Abandoned 004
Bodies laid out - but by whom?

The Abandoned 005
Indications of Satanic activity?

The Abandoned 006
He's just hanging around

The Abandoned 007
Under the big top

The Abandoned 008
The train station

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Designing a Mouse

It's said that an elephant is a mouse designed to government specifications. The mouse, in this case, is the idea of extending health insurance to those who currently want but cannot afford it. The elephant is the jumbo-sized monstrosity known as Obamacare.

Here's but one recent example of how good intentions have gone awry, from's Ed Morrissey:
The initial shock of the premium increases and the incompetent use of $94 create the world’s biggest 404 exchange are just the starting shocks of ObamaCare….[N]ot only have premiums doubled in the individual markets, the coverage has gotten worse in a very concrete way.
Morrissey quotes from an article in the Chicago Tribune, in which a 33-year-old single father, a nurse practitioner with a 7-year-old daughter, faces a more than twofold increase in his $233 per month insurance premium. Alternatively, if he wants to keep costs down, he can pick a plan with a $12,700 annual deductible.

Obamacare has imposed all sorts of requirements on insurance plans - remember Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke and her demand that insurance cover her birth control pills? - that drive up costs. Keeping premiums down to an affordable level often requires deductibles that are so high the insurance plan is essentially a catastrophic coverage plan, but at the price of a Cadillac plan.

This is not to fault the idea of expanding insurance coverage. But the execution - typical of big government projects - has been horrible. People who have had satisfactory individual coverage can't keep it, employers are dropping their plans and forcing employees into the Obamacare exchanges as well as reducing the number of full-time employees. Meanwhile, the math requires that young, healthy people buy expensive insurance policies in order to subsidize older, less healthy people. What are the odds that many of them do that, rather than pay the additional tax and roll the dice?

Rather than acknowledge the shortcomings of Obamacare, the President and most Democrats in Congress are shouting that it's working as planned, no worries, things will get better, those dastardly Republicans are at fault, and oh! a squirrel!

An elephant indeed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Party of "No"

The latest on the government shutdown and the nearing debt ceiling limit, from Politico:
Democratic leaders in the Senate are rejecting an offer by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to end the budget impasse, arguing it asks for too much in return for too little, senators and aides tell POLITICO. 
The development comes on the same day that the Senate voted 53-45 to block a Democratic bill that would raise the debt ceiling through 2014 without any spending cuts or changes to Obamacare. 
The Collins plan, which was drafted with input from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and other senators, called for a six-month extension of government funding and a debt limit increase through January. But it asked for a delay in Obamacare’s medical device tax for two years and a requirement for income verification for Obamacare subsidies. 
While it would give federal agencies more flexibility to work within the constraints of the automatic sequestration cuts, Democrats objected to the level of funding that Collins was seeking, which would lock-in the levels under the sequester at $967 billion next year, far too low for many Democrats, 
Moreover, Democrats are calling for a longer-term budget deal that would raise the debt ceiling and extend government funding. And they said that agreeing to a shorter-term budget deal and a lower funding level — with a handful of changes to Obamacare — was asking too much after they have called for a “clean” increase to the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling and a stop-gap measure to keep the government running.
Clearly, Senate Democrats think they have the upper hand in the negotiations. Fair enough. At the same time, it's absurd to think that blame goes in one direction only when both House and Senate Republicans have made proposal after proposal to end the impasse, only to be told "no." Not "here's a counterproposal" or "we're not prepared to negotiate in this area but there may be some room to negotiate over here." Just "no."

I'll have to say that I'm a bit amused by how "Obamacare" - once considered pejorative by Democrats - has been embraced by Democrats and the media.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Flying City of Lilith

Thanks to the inimitable Dr. Rafael Fabre, I learned of a recent addition to the Steamlands: the Flying City of Lilith. The city's RP combines Victoriana, Steampunk, and magic in a fantastical setting. The creators provide background on Lilith on their web site.

After perusing the vast library [where in-world information on the RP can be obtained], I ventured into the flying city, where I met one of the creators, Mr. Ellwood407. He welcomed me to the city before returning to the hard work of constructing the setting.

Flying City of Lilith 10 8 13 001

Flying City of Lilith 10 8 13 002

Flying City of Lilith 10 8 13 003

Flying City of Lilith 10 8 13 004

Flying City of Lilith 10 8 13 005

I'm told that there is even a "gentleman's club," though I wouldn't know about such things! If one existed, it might have the slightly naughty name of the Cherry Pie Gentleman's Club, and might look something like this:

Flying City of Lilith 10 8 13 006

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stuck in Low Gear

Since coming back from two weeks of vacation in mid-September, I realize I've been very quiet on this Journal. Mainly, it's a matter of being mentally unable to get it back into gear. I haven't done much on my dozens - okay, hundreds - of photos from the trip, either. One day I'll manage to get things going.

In the meanwhile, I see that Duchess Eva and Seneschelf Serra have organized this year's BoobieThon in Second Life, starting today (Oct. 6) and running to the following Sunday:
The Sixth Annual BoobieThon in SL will be a fantastic, yet bittersweet, addition to this October. 
Since 2008, we have been working with wonderful volunteers, artists, builders, scriptors, and donors in Second Life. We find that the time has come for us to end this particular fund-raising effort in Second Life. 
It is not without regret that we have decided that this will be the last year for the BoobieThon in SL. We have found such enjoyment in getting to know survivors in our community, sharing art, builds, and irreverent pleasures as we have raised money to fight breast cancer through research, survivor support programs, and prevention education. 
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your support in the past 6 years and invite you to join us for the final BoobieThon, may it be the best ever! 
Your Bosom Buddies,
The Lady of Skye; Lady Chief of Clan Bellambi; Duchess Loch Avie, Eva Bellambi
Lady Twilight; Keeper of Dreams; Seneschelf of Winterfell, Serra Anansi
I'm sure organizing the BoobieThon has been a major time drain for both ladies, but it's a little sad to see such a wonderful event come to an end. Still, one more chance to support breast cancer research and education!