Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 02:03 on 18-02-2012, Arthur B
It kind of looks like "trout".
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at 01:46 on 18-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
I have no idea what you might see in that line of letters. Whatsoever.
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at 01:34 on 18-02-2012, Arthur B
trwat

Hurr.
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at 01:08 on 18-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
It is a good idea though. It would most certainly be preferable to the current circumstances. I did train our dog to do the typing, but it could only ever type one letter at the time and each time I rewarded it with a trwat, it would drop the little pointer in its mouth and would have to scamper down to get it and up again to the letter input device for the computator. And its spelling, although estimable for a canine, was really quite awful.

But training a teenager resembles too much real work and would require communication either verbally or then in writing, the first of which is unpleasant and the latter a bit too time consuming for Facebook status updates, or for searching Youtube for videos of that cat who likes to be in boxes.
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at 23:02 on 17-02-2012, Shimmin
I suggest employing a second team (perhaps of teenagers, who I believe have special training) to transcribe your elegant handwritten script onto the difference engines. Not only does it avoid an unpleasant duty, but it provides valuable employment in these straitened times.

(A joke, of course. I cannot in seriousness endorse the use of tacky modern inventions like the computer, the pen, or the opposable thumb)
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at 19:30 on 17-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
Well obviously everybody here is wrong on this issue. Everybody who really likes books or literature doesn't really touch a book that's been made with any modern technology, like movable type or technologies after that. This only true opinion of things also carries the benefit that you can truly be a member of a choice group and differentiate yourself from the common rabble who imagine they like reading.

Of course it makes it more difficult to read some more modern works, but I myself employ a team of monks to do the work of copying the text to a more acceptable form. Expensive, of course, but in some cases one really has to make an effort to maintain a touch of taste in one's milieu. Don't anyone bother to point the irony of me using as barbaric a method as a modern data computing contraption to point it out. We all have to make some sacrifices in this world.
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at 14:49 on 17-02-2012, James D
I didn't mean to imply everybody has the same experience that I do (admitting
that I did accidentally sit on my Nook and destroy it not long ago and it was
very traumatic), but my point was that an ebook is only the text without
anything else, so by definition they're appealing to somebody who likes the
reading part above collector of objects part.

Ouch! Sorry to hear about your poor Nook; that's exactly the kind of thing I'd worry about if I had one. Anyway I ought to mention I prefer physical books pretty much exclusively for practical reasons; most of the ones I buy are cheap used paperbacks and not worth a damn as objets d'art. I'm leery of that kind of collecting in general.

I'm sure one is as annoying as the other.

I'd say so.
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at 06:06 on 17-02-2012, valse de la lune
I encounter a lot of fetishistic "but paper is so magical" hand-wringing online, plus all the usual silly arguments like "e-readers won't survive a dunk in the bathtub." Because, of course, one dunks paper books in bathtubs constantly.

I've just now discovered Adam Roberts' reviews of Waste of Time, incidentally. Oh my. Jordan fans' reactions to that were nothing if not ridiculous.
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at 02:33 on 17-02-2012, Michal
It seems like he's writing a response to people who act like a preference for physical books is mature and sophisticated, while people who like ebooks are all subliterate members of the twitter generation.

Huh. So far, in actual day-to-day life, I've only encountered people who act like preference for ebooks is hip and modern, while people who like paper books are Luddites retarding the rate of Glorious Progress. (As discussed by Ursula K. le Guin)

I'm sure one is as annoying as the other.
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at 02:21 on 17-02-2012, Sister Magpie
I've heard that if you download the ebook of House of Leaves it actually increases the internal storage on your e-reader quite substantially.


LOL! Touche!

I dunno, I disagree with that. I find it easier to read a book that (realistically speaking) can't break or crash and is very unlikely to get stolen. I need another piece of electronic equipment to worry about like I need a hole in the head, so from that perspective it's easier to read a book for me.


I didn't mean to imply everybody has the same experience that I do (admitting that I did accidentally sit on my Nook and destroy it not long ago and it was very traumatic), but my point was that an ebook is only the text without anything else, so by definition they're appealing to somebody who likes the reading part above collector of objects part. So there's no reason being anti-e-book would put a person in the "loves to read more" side to which Dan referred.
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at 00:09 on 17-02-2012, James D
Yes, one of the ironic things about the whole book-lovers vs. ebooks is that one of the big advantages to e-books, even if you love books as objects, is they make it easier to actually read.

I dunno, I disagree with that. I find it easier to read a book that (realistically speaking) can't break or crash and is very unlikely to get stolen. I need another piece of electronic equipment to worry about like I need a hole in the head, so from that perspective it's easier to read a book for me. Anyway I don't finish books so frequently that finishing one and not having another available has ever been a problem for me. If I'm near the end of one and I go on a trip or something I take a second one. Bulkier, yeah, but unless we're talking science textbooks, space has never been at such a premium that I can't fit a second paperback into my luggage.

I've heard that if you download the ebook of House of Leaves it actually increases the internal storage on your e-reader quite substantially.

Wow, that means that pretentious crap might actually be good for something!
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at 21:58 on 16-02-2012, Arthur B
But that you can hold a lot of books in an e-reader, and it's always the same size, and if you've finished the one you're reading you can zap in a new one immediately.

I've heard that if you download the ebook of House of Leaves it actually increases the internal storage on your e-reader quite substantially.
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at 20:53 on 16-02-2012, Sister Magpie
There's nothing wrong with being interested in books as physical objects, any
more than there's anything wrong with being interested in swords or shoes or
hats, but a lot of people genuinely mistake a fetishisation of books for an
appreciation of the actual act of reading.

I think it's tangentially
related to my personal pet hate - people who want to "be writers" but don't seem
to actually want to write anything. A lot of people seem to spend a lot of time
"loving books" but have little interest in reading anything in any medium at
all.


Yes, one of the ironic things about the whole book-lovers vs. ebooks is that one of the big advantages to e-books, even if you love books as objects, is they make it easier to actually read. Not in terms of it being easier on the eyes, since plenty of people probably prefer reading on paper etc. But that you can hold a lot of books in an e-reader, and it's always the same size, and if you've finished the one you're reading you can zap in a new one immediately. Without having to later deal with finding shelf space for it.

There used to be a huge difference to me between carrying a big hardcover, thick book and a tiny paperback. Now everything's a nice manageable size. If I was only interested in displaying books as objects, of course, this would be counter-intuitive. What's the point of having the books if you can't see them? People rarely grab someone's reader to look at what they've got on it the way they browse the shelves at peoples' houses. Even on the subway you can't tell what the person's reading (I'm always nosy about that so I miss it--I had a lot of bonding experiences with people while I was reading Proust because when you've read him you always have to fistbump another fan.)
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at 18:43 on 16-02-2012, James D
The whole 'books vs. e-books' thing comes down to personal preference, that's it. I myself prefer physical books for a variety of reasons, but if someone feels more comfortable reading it on a Kindle, I'm not going to look down my nose at them. My girlfriend has a Nook and loves it. I think there's this reactionary paranoia among those who prefer physical books that publishers will stop printing them en masse; that's absurd. Has iTunes destroyed the CD market? These days the vast majority of CDs I want (even new ones) aren't legally available in digital format at all. The niche market for vinyl and even tapes is still thriving as well.

I mean, there are probably people out there who only read hardbacks and look down on people who read paperbacks for the same reason. I don't know why there's much point in paying attention to any of them. Or me!
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at 11:03 on 16-02-2012, Dan H

@Andy: Really? I honestly didn't get a shred of mischief off the article, but maybe that's just me.


I've not read the article, but from the section you quoted it sounds a lot like, well, the sort of thing I'd do. It seems like he's writing a response to people who act like a preference for physical books is mature and sophisticated, while people who like ebooks are all subliterate members of the twitter generation.
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at 07:08 on 16-02-2012, Shimmin
Sorry, tone was a bit wonky there, no glasses so typing is a bit awkward. It was meant to be an indulgent "you pretentious git" rather than a hostile one.

@Dan: Surely everyone stays until the end of the credits because these days 50% of films haven't actually finished yet? But I agree that there's nothing wrong with what he seems to be aiming for.

@Andy: Really? I honestly didn't get a shred of mischief off the article, but maybe that's just me.
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at 23:26 on 15-02-2012, Arthur B
A video analogy:

Someone who insists that you can't fully appreciate a YouTube kitten video unless you watch it on their fancy home cinema setup with audiophile-quality surround sound is one sort of pretentious git.

Someone who insists that it's pointless getting blu-ray quality video or going to the cinema to see movies because you can get the full aesthetic impact of Argento's use of colour in Suspiria or David Lynch's very subtle use of sound in Lost Highway or Len Wiseman's artistic use of buttocks in Underworld by watching a 240p YouTube video of a low-quality rip of a pirate VHS tape on your phone is a different type of pretentious git.

Someone who actually considers whether what they are about to watch is more like a thirty second kitten video or a finely-crafted visual masterpiece and chooses the medium they wish to see it on accordingly is actually showing something resembling discernment and is the only one of the three hypotheticals I would ever consider listening to.
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at 23:06 on 15-02-2012, Andy G
I think he's *playing* at being pretentious git with his remark about children's books and adult ones. I think he's being mischievously provocative, rather than entirely sincere.

Though of course, playing at being a pretentious git might itself be a sign of being a pretentious git.
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at 22:56 on 15-02-2012, Dan H
You pretentious git, Parks.


I think this is one of those situations where somebody is being a pretentious git as an overreaction to other people being pretentious gits.

I think there's a Certain Sort of Person who attributes a fetishistic importance to "books" - the same Certain Sort of Person who (and I fear I'm opening a can of worms here) insists on staying in a cinema until the end of the credits like that somehow means that they're Serious About Film.

There's nothing wrong with being interested in books as physical objects, any more than there's anything wrong with being interested in swords or shoes or hats, but a lot of people genuinely mistake a fetishisation of books for an appreciation of the actual act of reading.

I think it's tangentially related to my personal pet hate - people who want to "be writers" but don't seem to actually want to write anything. A lot of people seem to spend a lot of time "loving books" but have little interest in reading anything in any medium at all.
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at 22:30 on 15-02-2012, Shimmin
You're right, it is interesting. He basically points out that books are not the same thing as literature, which I hadn't particularly thought about, and that e-books don't undermine literature, which is fair enough. They are not Destroying The Written Word or anything. The end of the article also makes some pretty good points.

/begin Shimming.
There are a few things that stuck out for me. He's very right that any medium has its own pleasures and aesthetic qualities that aren't intrinsically linked to the text, but what he skips over is that not being part of The Text doesn't mean these things aren't worthwhile in themselves. At the serious risk of being a complete pseud, the experience of reading a book is different from reading the words, just like going to a concert is different from listening to an MP3, and going out to a restaurant is different from consuming a nutrient pill. Similarly, the physical memory aspect of physical books isn't a cataclysmic loss but it is a nice and useful thing.

Basically Parksy seems to be stuck on the idea of The Text, and disregarding that for most people it's not the same as reading. Interesting covers, and paper quality, and illustrations, and other design choices all affect my experience of reading a book. Yes, even if the cover's completely misleading. Rereading a much-thumbed copy of a favourite book is a bit different from getting a different edition. Some books are physically a pleasure to read and others are quite offputting (I have stuff in the stacks at work that makes me cringe) or just awkward. I actually disagree about "the sequence of the words must remain inviolate" as well; for one thing endorsing that would seem to say translations are invalid, and for another which sequence of words? The ones the author wrote originally? The edited version prepared between her and an editor? The third edition with one extra original chapter restored posthumously? Similarly, abridged editions and beginning-reader editions are okay in my world, and radio dramatisations and so on.

Also:
Certainly it offers a more austere, direct engagement with the words appearing before us and disappearing behind us than the traditional paper book offers, giving no fetishistic gratification as we cover our walls with famous names. It is as if one had been freed from everything extraneous and distracting surrounding the text to focus on the pleasure of the words themselves. In this sense the passage from paper to e-book is not unlike the moment when we passed from illustrated children’s books to the adult version of the page that is only text. This is a medium for grown-ups.

You pretentious git, Parks. Do you also reject films and theatre and insist on reading the script and directors' notes? Do you, like Lord Vetinari, peruse sheet music from a dread of overweight bassoonists drippling saliva down their reeds? Do you never find that an apt illustration turns a bland bit of writing into something sparkling?
/end Shimming

Basically though I think I just disagree with him on what the Literary Experience is, but then I suspect he reads Booker Prize-Winning Novels* rather than second-hand 80s sci-fi and the obscure stuff I prefer.

*Just to clarify, I don't actually despise people for reading BPWNs. I appreciate I go on about it sometimes.
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at 21:24 on 15-02-2012, Andy G
Interesting piece in praise of ebooks.
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at 19:27 on 15-02-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I dunno, from the graphic, it looks more like Jacob's just realized that baby is the antichrist.

Really, that's what his expression is saying? Then again, I've never been able to read Taylor Lautner's facial expressions; the price paid for not studying dendrology in university, I guess.

But yeah, I'm feeling a significant amount of morbid curiosity to see how they're going to try to get around the whole massive creepiness factor. My prediction: whatever they do, it won't be enough.

I feel exactly the opposite. I actually want them to make the whole situation as creepy as possible, no, even creepier than is possible, just to turn the whole thing into a proper spectacle. The way I see it, it'll simply be bringing Stephanie Meyer's confused attitude regarding sexuality to the fore and make the movie a true den of the authorial subconscious. Plus it'll be a shoo-in at the 2013 Oscars for makeup effects, which is always a good award to get.
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at 20:58 on 14-02-2012, Michal
Either way, creepy CG'd baby is creepy.
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at 18:06 on 14-02-2012, Robinson L
Well, since we see his expression first, I couldn't really help registering it. After that, the close-up on the baby looked less "hel-lo handsome" and more "I will devour your soul!"

Seriously, just try dubbing that ubiquitous Dun Dun DUNNN! musical sting over the close-up and see how well it works.
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