Monday, April 28, 2014

Metaverse Mafia --A Fictional Story--


There exists, deep within the flotsam of human depravities and detritus; living among the hovels & open sewage; amid the thieves and among the pimps and their prostitutes; walking amongst the human traffickers and drug traffickers…The Metaverse Mafia.

It is a real thing, make no mistake about this.

Hello, by way of a short introduction; I am Detective Investigator Susanetta Romoli |- a nom de plume to conceal my true identity since my work is all undercover -|.

I have recently been hired to oversee a new division of the International Cyber Anti-Thugs to bring my Administrative and deeply Investigative personal skill-set to get this Division moving in the right direction.

This is a temporary position as I am more sorely needed elsewhere. I decided to accept this position in return for a favor given many years ago, by a dear friend in the CAT.

I will note the letter of request;

Dear true and valued Friend,

As the Virtual Reality aspects of the Internet have increased in popularity and due to the recent purchase by another social network, Facebook, of the Occulus Rift, an immersive headset in its early stages of development, we here at CAT decided to create a new division to address a growing problem.

Various, and more and more frequent reports have come to our attention that there is a nefarious subset of people using this medium to spread disinformation, misinformation, bad-will, and appallingly ill-mannered pontifications, upon the rest of the good people of the Metaversum |- as we call it -|.

They use various and a sundry tool available to the Internet as has always been. They create guest accounts, use anonymous postings, use proxies, use shillabars |- an interesting article -|, and they create something unique to Virtual Worlds, alts.

Alts, or alternates, are simply other incarnations of a single individual using another name and presenting themselves in a distinctly different way than their other avatars.

There are many good and valid reasons for Alts, also, which adds levels of complexity.

In due regard to a favor I once performed for you in my capacity as a Junior Administrator with CAT, I would ask for you to intently consider bringing your skills into our newly formed Division that will specifically address the aspects of VR Anti-Thugging, or VRAT. |- but fondly referred to as BRAT within CAT -|

We at CAT will use your highly regarded Administrative abilities and continue hence forward once you have established the Division on a firm footing with strong legs.

You may, of course, contact me by various communicative ways known only to you, and not to be published in the missive as a reminder.

I remain, your devoted supplicant, admirer, and friend, with utmost and enduring regards,

Alford Katzmann |- also a nom de plume, as you know -|

Répondez s'il vous plaît, Mon Chéri.

Capitulum Unum~

"If suffering brings wisdom, I would wish to be less wise." ➳ William Butler Yeats

The major part of my life was spent in fine-tuning my Investigative skills. In turn, doing so has given me the ability to more easily discern complex human interactions and connect dots, in a kind of "out of the box" type of thinking.

As well, being an Independent Business Woman for most of my life, I have developed a keen ability to administer. In business it is important to delegate, but more than that, to delegate properly and responsibly.

Delegating properly often means trying people in various positions and with various authorities, in order to find where they most uniquely fit. Sometimes they simply cannot be properly positioned as I would wish, but if they have talents in some regard useful to my affairs, then I can usually find a nice niche for them, where they, and I, are comfortable. It then becomes beneficial to us both.

As, over time, my lifetime of knowledge and proven skills have come to the attention of others, some highly placed in various Business and Government entities, I have often been called upon to help them in various regards and in various projects. Some of these have been short-term, some longer, and some in roles "behind the scenes" that very few people are aware of.

I have developed an extensive list of friends, acquaintances, Business and Government contacts, and many other talented and interesting people with whom I regularly communicate with in order to keep a well-oiled network to help me along in my endeavours. These are people from all walks of life, and both rich and poor, those who dwell among the famous and those who dwell among the sewer rats.

All my extraneous projects have been on a retainer basis in a contractual business relationship. I must at all times be able to exercise my free will, and those who opportune themselves upon me, know this as a given.

I am a simple but feisty Grandmother. Life has given me many interesting opportunities, but my children and their children take center stage with me in the sunset of my life. As a result, all inquiries that request my time are sifted, filtered and strained through those that I most enjoy in my life now.

Some say I am wise, I say to them that I have just enjoyed the study of human nature, most of my life, and I still find humanity very intriguing.

If there is any true wisdom I have found, it is that life often does not turn out as we expected when younger, and to roll with the changes will lead to a much more peaceful & graceful co-existence, more tuned to natural ways.

My acceptance of this current assignment with the VRAT division of CAT should lead to more interesting discoveries of the variety of human nature, which is the main reason I accepted the honour.

My intention will be to delegate the most visible aspects to those I will either hire, whom I have known for certain skills, or find within the Organization those I can adapt to most favorably conclude my part in it, in the most expedient way possible.

I have been given very wide authorities and the budget will be determined by me.

My primary purpose, as stated, is to create the administration and administrative aspects of the Division. Doing so will require setting out the primary Mission, finding and delegating the various Department heads, finding and putting in place those people whom will help to insure the Division will most well proceed when my task is done.

Caput duobus~

"She had already allowed her delectable lover to pluck that flower which, so different from the rose to which it is nevertheless sometimes compared, has not the same faculty of being reborn each spring." ➳ Marquis de Sade

My first month on the job has given me many rewards, allowed me to renew several friendships, and added a new dimension to my worldview.

Virtual Worlds are endlessly fascinating. They allow insights into the human condition not found in any other medium. I have decided that when this Contract expires, I will take personal time and further explore this.

I immediately made contact with Petunia Mcdougall. She has been invaluable to me on several projects and her acute ability to intuitively grasp what is needed for me to stay on schedule and allow me to focus on more overall Administrative issues has helped us both in numerous ways.

Petty and I start each day, as has been our wont, reviewing the previous day and confirming what is needed for the current day. Her wit and humour intertwined with the enjoyment of an excellent fresh bean gives us both a wonderful introduction to our business at hand. So we sit, enjoy our coffee, enjoy each other’s company, make some small talk and brainstorm. She helps me to stay focused and keeps my schedule impeccably managed.

Wilfred Richer and I have been acquainted some 30+ years now. Wil is a wizard with people. He can sit with someone for an hour and know exactly where they will best fit into a project. I made him Manager of Human Resources. He, in turn, has hired several key people with various abilities, support staff, and other people necessary to fill out the Department.

In the matter of procurement of supplies, tools, machines and various other and sundry necessary items needed to support the project and the people involved, I was very happy that Chrissy Thrainsson was available and agreed to join us. She heads our Buyer Department.

Computer Resources, and our IT Department, is headed by Gabriella Matarazzo. Gabby is a wonderfully intelligent and vivacious energetic soul. She brings to the table a very acute knowledge and understanding of computer systems. A true hacker at heart, she is someone who thinks "outside the box" and gets the job done, rather than stand upon simple tried and true methodologies. Her contacts within the hacker and programming world subset give her the ability to fact check and brainstorm ideas across a wide spectrum. Her Department is a core necessity due to the VR aspect, and she has agreed to participate indefinitely, which will be a matter for discussion, and proper offer with perquisites upon my departure. Currently she is, as are we all, on a Contractual basis.

Alford and I have been able to become more closely acquainted due to our proximity within the current offices now situated amongst the CAT building complex. He is a well articulated Man, and by virtue of his extensive travels has developed a dignified and personable nature, well tuned to a world view that encompasses many aspects of human nature. He is a Company Man and throughout his 53 years with CAT he has progressed through the ranks to his current position as Under Secretary and right-hand Man to Cornell Erickson, the current and long-standing Administrator. On a personal note, while he is a most handsome Man, with beautiful, soft-looking, slightly greying facial hairs and a continually amusing glint to his eyes, I also find his company to be very appealing.

Caput Tres~

"Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments." ➳ The Grapes of Wrath

--Mission Statement--
  • We will ethically and morally attempt to discern reality from the virtual reality.
  • We will attempt to stay above the common fray and frailties of humanity.
  • We will look at all aspects, as best we can, with an eye towards finding "tattva".
  • We will look under every rock, every pebble, and leave no stone unturned.
  • We will take the collected data and turn it in every possible way to dissect it as completely as possible.
  • We will be honest with those we contact, and with ourselves.
  • We will be as transparent as possible while maintaining our mission parameters.

This Division has a complex and intricate assignment to perform. Since VR is a moving technology, changing rapidly in some regards, and ofttimes rather quickly, it is our task to keep open minds. It is necessary to become knowledgeable of the various aspects. It is important to discern various agendas and motivations.

We will accomplish these tasks using various means available to us. We will talk to the basic free players, the Artists, the Performers, the Admins, the Hobbyists, the Educators, the Programmers and Scripters, the movers and shakers.

We will read, and we will watch, and we will participate.

We know this task will extend past our time within VRAT, and that others' will proceed henceforth. We extend our hand to those to come and lay the groundwork in order to help you continue posthaste.

Caput Quattuor~

"Change in the world comes from individuals, from the inner peace in individual hearts. Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects." ➳ Dalai Lama

Alford and I had dinner last night. It was a simple affair, down at the local Steakhouse. We shared a lovely and most tender Châteaubriand, it was quite delicious. With side dishes of mixed vegetables made in an Indian curried style and a spicy Texas bean recipe, the entire dinner was most satisfying.

We made small talk during the meal and while enjoying a very nice bottle of Gewürztraminer, or two.

Alford enjoys life in the true spirit embodied in "C'est la vie!" and his company is quite enjoyable, the talk interspersed with humour, wisdom, and a cavalier but cosmopolitan worldview.

As the dinner was being finished, and while the wine served us well to remove much of the tension and inhibitions associated with such intimacies, the talk veered towards more business related things.

We discussed how things were going, is it moving forward in the direction intended, are we ready to move to the next stage, how is the staffing going.

I love the expressions on his face, all, it seems, carefully orchestrated and nuanced in order to effect the desired result...fascinating. Complex Men have always intrigued me and give me endless amusement as I work out discerning their various levels. Many Men feel they are complex, while this is only a simplistic perception related to Ego those have.

Truly complex Men are, de facto, less easily manipulated, or totally inured to any manipulations since they are usually much to perceptive to fall so easily to such contrivances, and thus more challenging to women who can discern these differences, and whom appreciate them.

Men filled with their own egos are simply to simple-minded to my eyes.

We ended the dinner at the coat room, where he was the quintessential Gentle man, helped me with my coat, walked me to my car, and bid me adieu, with a slight and delicate touch on my left shoulder, slightly running his fingers down a tuft of my hair, quite nicely diffident... but also adding a most delicious intimacy.

The next morning Petty and I discussed our usual discussibles, and I brought up the dinner. She was all agog and wanted to know all the slightest details...she knew I had my eyes on him. I shooed her off with a dismissive wave of my hand and a coquettish smirk...Oh là là!!, we had important business to get on with!

Today we make our first foray inside a virtual world!

For this task, Wilfred had hired someone already acquainted with the grid called FifthLife. He was a, what they call, resident, for some years already. Amerigo Guay is from Peru and is a sharp wit quick on the uptake, exactly what we need to be our initial eyes and always, Wil picked the right person for the job. Amerigo uses the pseudonym, Teodoro Ricart-Costa, still somewhat Hispanic.

FifthLife is by far the largest VR Grid at this time, full of a wide assortment of eclectic and interesting Avatars. Within it's "virtual" walls one can find anything these virtual worlds have to offer. We are all most excited.

Caput Quinque~

“There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.” ➳ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

We have initially tasked Amerigo to show us various broad brush aspects of FL |- FifthLife -|. We want the office to watch him go about this grid and explore, while recording.

There has been a very large monitor setup so that the entire office can view it easily. As well, the images are accessible via all computer terminals Live or recorded. Several people have been tasked to review the recordings and make notes with timestamps of various things they may find useful. We wish to immerse ourselves as best as possible, while still maintaining a certain degree of aloofness in order to keep objectivity.

Daily this data is collated into a report for my own review. Weekly the Supervisors and other salient employees meet in the Board room and brainstorm. These weekly meetings have a revolving door approach with various people in order to give fresh perspectives on the variety of collected information.

Over these past few weeks Amerigo has shown us amazing Steampunk style places, Artistry unparalleled via any other medium, beautiful visions of individuals and communities, the bordellos and the Escort services...sexual liaison places and secret romantic spots. Renditions of communities not much unlike the real world, and those exhibiting fanciful futuristic concepts.

Through his eyes and using his knowledge of the medium, we have been able to develop a living dictionary of the lingo, as all such communities have, and to get to know, as best we can, some of the major players and get an overall sense of VR.

We will be further exploring the Underground aspects where we expect that those who profit in some regard, who prey upon the weak and the deviant aspects of human nature, where the Mafia will be found.

Caput Sex~

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.” ➳ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Amerigo has acquainted himself with Lisetta Shroff, one of the most sought after "ladies of the night".

One of the vices satisfied in FL is done by way of Escort Services. As these women offer their ears to the "pillow talk" of many kinds of men, they find out much of what happens within the grid, from the male perspective. Lisetta is particularly skilled in this love to talk of intimate affairs in such quasi-anonymous situations.

So she also trades in information, getting it and selling it and giving it away, to those she has decided to take into her confidence. She is not haphazard in this regard, non, but quite purposeful. A woman, who while a dilettante, likewise enjoys her hobby.

Amerigo, via various artifices, has managed to finagle himself, rather astonishly quickly he ingratiated himself into her inner circle. Lis is a wonderful conversationalist, hence her success...and there are few women with such light-hearted and carefree wit. We think this is why her and Amerigo hit it off so well, their thinking and approach to life is very simpatico.

Lis has acquiesced in Amerigo's plans, has been given some slight understandings of such, and will do as she can to exacerbate it forward.

Caput Septum~

"The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision." ➳ Helen Keller

Amerigo has done a superb job of gathering around himself quite a few interesting, and well connected, people, not only Lis, but also Morrie Laird.

Morrie is a prolific and energetic Artist who creates such ephemeral exhibits of wonder people from all over FL come to see, if they are lucky enough to catch one before he moves on to the next.

Alphonse Zaphiris is an administrator over 69 regions. He has several staff with whom he delegates various duties with certain authorities. Al has given us, through the eyes of Amerigo, a deep insight into the workings of Region Administration. It is a business after all is said and done, so we appreciate the look behind the playful pitter patter of the majority of the Residents.

And there are several others who work as a kind of informant, they contribute various tidbits of information that is added to our growing database and goes into the fullness of the tapestry we are weaving concerning Virtual Reality as it is currently.

Compiling this database in order to drill down closer and closer to the Mafia is both time consuming and requires much detail oriented "sniffing about". We persevere and are closing in but realize we still have much further to go. We are also seeing hints of an epiphany, growing closer to full realization daily, that to better ascertain the nature of the Mafia network, we may have to look into other FL type "grids".

This network has fingers into many aspects of this VR, and we are determined to ascertain it's whereabouts and inspect it's structure. Much of this will form the basis for the next team to continue.

Caput Octo~ fini

"Geometry existed before the creation of things, as eternal as the Spirit of God; it is God Himself and He gave Him the prototypes for the creation of the world." ~ Johannes Kepler ~ Harmonices Mundi, 1619

It is appropriate, nay, necessary, to finish this story at the numeral "8".

"For Jews 8 was the number which symbolized salvation, rebirth and regeneration: 8 members of Noah's family were saved in the time of the Great Flood and it was on the 8th day of his life that a boy child was circumcised, signifying his entrance into the covenant family of Israel, the chosen people of God.

But for early Christians 8 was the number which symbolized the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the formation of the New Covenant.  Jesus was raised on the day after the 7th day, which was the Sabbath, making Jesus Resurrection on the 8th day, Sunday, which was the first day of the week and the day of the New Creation just as the old Creation also began on what is the first day of the week.

It is for this reason that Christian churches built during the Byzantine period were 8-sided structures.  The rediscovery of the ruins of St. Peter's house in Capernaum was verified by the identification of a central room used for Christian worship which was reconfigured as an 8-sided room. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the significance of the number 8 for Christians in article # 349: The eighth day.

But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ's Resurrection.  The seventh day completes the first creation.  The eight day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation." [citation] [citation]

There has been a whirlwind of activity over these past several months. Most importantly, to me, is my engagement to Alford.

It works ...we are so much of a similar mind it was inevitable... truly.

Petty is thrilled and I have asked of her, and she accepted, to be one of my Bridesmaids.

As Alford and I have discussed in length, we feel it is best that I resign my authorities with VRAT while I attend myself to the various duties and obligations of the blissful state (of which I am certain will be) of marriage. I have submitted my resignation and it has been accepted.

My resignation of my contractual commitments will conclude by months end, 13 days hence. In the meantime I am hastening to tie up lose ends and bring the division to a place of order such that the following Administrator will be able to easily move forward with the goals and mission of the Division.

All has been done needed to accomplish this, data has been entered, collated, graphed, delegated, and much has been accomplished with the groundwork, with these virtual reality grids, with staffing, and administration of the various people in setting up the department to most fluidly and easily move forward in an equitable manner.

With the help of the excellent staff that Wilfred and others have hired, we have accomplished our task, and more.

While FifthLife has continued to remain our base grid simply due to its size, and thus its variety, and thus where the largest percent of the Mafia are based, we have also gathered information in the other iterations of this lifestyle, in other places.

We have found that, due to the monetary incentives, that the largest part of their activities are done inside the various commercialized systems that FL started.

Greed, as is common in human nature, always rules certain types of human thinking.

Deviancy of all sorts are preyed upon, and preyed, in turn, by those self-same predators upon others they perceive as weaker than themselves.

While we did find a large community of those participating in non-commercial, no currency places, since the financial incentives are not there, those who do have their hands in it, use both aspects to do their deeds in various regards, often of a proselytizing nature.

We have added more staff to enter these places and add to the large and growing data we have collected, all of which have been cleverly placed by Gabby to be easily used in various regards. Gabby, by the way, will continue on as a very well paid employee of CAT, has been given a wonderful penthouse apartment close by the complex, and will be on call to help in other divisions, occasionally...she is really that good.

Wilfred will be taking a leave of absence, his contract to be reviewed when, or if, he returns. I suspect his vacation will extend indefinitely, of his own desire.

Chrissy will also continue on with the department, and a fine raise in pay went with the offer for her to do so.

Petty will remain with me, by my side, helping me with my other obligations, and with my wedding arrangements as well. She truly is... a treasured and dependable friend. Alford is quite taken with how well she attends to my needs and, as well, he now considers her a friend, and a sometimes confidante concerning various rather more sensitive matters to us both.

I am not retiring, no, this is impossible for me now, and for some time to come. I still have an indefatigable desire to further explore the various levels of the human condition, they fascinate me. For now, however, I will expend my energies towards my fiancé, and help make plans for our future. I expect to be surprised regularly, to be thrilled, and to be romanced in the ways only a true cosmopolitan man-of-the-world, and of women, can know of.

Alford knows intrinsically that to be a true Man, as well as a gentle man of good taste, and also being intelligent, that the way to true happiness and well-being is to take care of the woman he loves, and treat her with truly understood respect, be gentle always, but also strong when required.

You see how excited I am...I simply cannot conclude this matter without continually interspersing my missive with conversation about Alford. C'est la vie, nicht wahr?

As the fruition of our growing more closely, the engagement, and the matter of it all happening during our time investigating VR, while along with our personal wedding, we will have another wedding inside FL. We think this will be so much fun, and done in ways one simply cannot do outside of VR...our minds are twirling with ideas and it makes for such fun conversations to imagine what we can do.

We have also made many interesting contacts inside VRs, so we are thinking some kind of Artistic, ephemeral, and dreamy style will be fun for us. Morrie will be the conceptual Artist, and we are in discussions with him already, he is a dear and fascinating Man.

So, my dear and faithful followers of this anecdote of my life, ends.

May your lives be filled with wonder and amazement, may you find true happiness, may you find your own soul-mate...we deserve these things, yes?

“Mothers tell your children 'Be quick, you must be strong. Life is full of wonder and love is never wrong.' Remember how they taught you; how much of it was fear. Refuse to hand it down: The legacy stops here.” ➳ Melissa Etheridge