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 08:48 on 14-08-2009, Jen Spencer
If you are sick to death of supposed "cute" animals just waltzing into your life and demanding your affection, then this is the blog for you.

Warning, thar be swears.
at 20:09 on 13-08-2009, Rude Cyrus permalink
at 10:24 on 12-08-2009, Arthur B permalink
at 19:35 on 11-08-2009, Rude Cyrus
The guy behind games like Thief and System Shock is making a steampunk Disney game. Looks insane, but it'll probably be toned down when it's (hopefully) released.
at 18:42 on 11-08-2009, Jamie Johnston
I'm sure that sort of thing does happen, consciously or unconsciously; in this particular case, though, the new cover looks to me more like 'Fuck it, I don't care any more, just stick a black girl on it'. The original cover was dull, but at least somebody had put some measure of creative thought into it (this thought being either the genuine but extremely ill-advised idea of using a white girl to raise questions about the narrator's reliability or else the cynical and appalling idea of using a white girl to make more people buy the book and then justifying it by saying it was to raise questions about the narrator's reliability). The new one has gone beyond dull. Visually it reaches a level of uninterestingness normally found on the covers of remaindered self-help books; conceptually it's now completely devoid of any underlying idea beyond 'this is a book about a girl who looks like this'.

Bloomsbury could have used the Australian cover, which would have cost no extra money and saved everybody's pride; or they could have spent some money commissioning a new cover, with or without a picture of a person on it, which would have shown they'd taken the point and wanted to respond constructively. But they've decided to put in precisely enough time, thought, and money to change only the one very specific thing that Larbalestier complained about and nothing else. It says, 'We surrender unconditionally without in any way accepting that we were wrong'; it says, 'We'll cooperate to extent of doing precisely what you ask with a pointed lack of enthusiasm'. Which is quite childish but also understandable, especially if the original cover really was trying sincerely (though unwisely and even perhaps unconsciously racistly) to do something interesting.
at 15:56 on 11-08-2009, Gina Dhawa
I don't think you're being cynical at all, I wouldn't be surprised if there was exactly that discussion. It's not unknown, let's say. (link: TV Tropes, so, like wiki, somewhat interesting at times).
at 15:00 on 11-08-2009, Robinson L
This might not be news to anyone but me
It's news to me (since I essentially live under a rock). I notice that the girl on the new cover, while technically black, is still on the paler end of the spectrum. Maybe I'm too cynical for my own good, but I can't help wondering if that wasn't a deliberate decision on the part of the publishers so as not to make her too black.

Tim Wise has suggested that Barack Obama had a somewhat easier time winning over white voters because he wasn't as black as, say, Paul Robeson.

On the plus side, those look like some interesting books and interesting authors. Must check them out someday ...
at 12:13 on 11-08-2009, Andy G
This might not be news to anyone but me, but there was follow-up in the Guardian today about the Liar coverfail.
at 04:55 on 11-08-2009, Viorica
Ah, but that's just what the biased liberal media wants you to think! In reality, people who would benefit from free health care are moochers who expect the government to support them. Also, they're probably gay Communist Mexicans who carry swine flu.
at 00:09 on 11-08-2009, Rude Cyrus
Here's an example of what health care is like in the States.

There had better be some damn good reform soon.
at 09:50 on 10-08-2009, Arthur B
Major league troll gets outed by The Smoking Gun. This is the guy whose trolling group, amongst other things, convinced a bunch of KFC employees that they had been exposed to toxic chemicals, and the only cure was to strip naked and urinate on each other.
at 09:45 on 10-08-2009, Arthur B
Apologies to Trey Parker and Matt Stone for stealing their joke, but if the glove fits...

This is what Republicans actually believe.

Context is here.
at 07:28 on 10-08-2009, Rude Cyrus
We'll see; frankly, I'm quite cynical about the whole thing.
at 00:37 on 10-08-2009, Arthur B
Yes, but surely it hasn't lurched to the right far enough that people aren't phased and disturbed by screaming and violence?
at 23:49 on 09-08-2009, Rude Cyrus
In the United States, what is considered moderate has slowly shifted to the right over the past few decades, so it's more about being in-between a center-left ideology and a far right ideology. A lot of these "moderate" voters aren't all that moderate.
at 19:17 on 09-08-2009, Jamie Johnston

(Rami's thing, not the American scariness. The scariness is scary.)
at 16:11 on 09-08-2009, Arthur B
Surely swing voters are moderate by definition, at least in the context of the political scene they're operating in?
at 07:33 on 09-08-2009, Rami
Also, Arthur is assuming that the swing voters involved are moderate and / or reasonably intelligent or informed. That doesn't tend to be the case in America.

To drop the tone back down: I just came across this. Genius!
at 04:31 on 09-08-2009, Rude Cyrus
Don't be so sure, Arthur. If and when this healthcare bill turns out to be a disaster, the Republicans and their enablers in the mainstream media will gladly say, "See? This is all the fault of Obama/Democrats/liberals." The people will be angry and frustrated and the conservatives will usher them in on their side with sweet words and faux-populist talk. Remember, "No one went bankrupt underestimating the intelligence of the American public." Even if that doesn't happen, it'll disenfranchise enough voters to keep them home during elections, so they win either way.

The biggest problem Americans face is that one of their political parties is made up almost entirely of insane, bullying, me-first bigots, while the other party is made up almost entirely of wishy-washy invertebrates that wouldn't be able to find their asses with both hands and an ass-finding guide.
at 03:05 on 09-08-2009, Arthur B
These are powerful individuals with many tools at their disposal, and they're deliberately whipping the wingnuts into a frenzy.

Which will surely hurt them in the long run, since surely the crucial independent voters who determine the results of elections will blame the wingnuts and their sponsors if they actually derail the healthcare agenda? Nothing turns off moderates worse than shouting and violence.
at 02:16 on 09-08-2009, Viorica
Speaking of crazy conservatives, Sarah Palin will have you know that socialised medicine= denying care to the old and the feeble.
at 02:06 on 09-08-2009, Rude Cyrus
Arthur: I misspoke; what I mean is that this isn't coming from an unorganized bunch of nobodies. You've got wealthy conservatives like Rick Scott and Dick Armey utilizing millions of dollars, big lobbying firms, and email campaigns to push their agenda. They form groups with names like "Freedom Works" or "Conservatives for Patients' Rights", to make themselves and their ignorant minions appear to be populists concerned about the average American citizen. These are powerful individuals with many tools at their disposal, and they're deliberately whipping the wingnuts into a frenzy.