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 06:36 on 25-06-2016, Melanie
Re: Heinlein - the thing about his work is that whilst the Lazarus Long stuff and Stranger In a Strange Land get hyped because they had highbrow pretensions and came out just when the idea of highbrow SF for grown-ups was getting a lot of currency, actually his "juveniles" (basically YA SF) which he wrote prior to that were what he built much of his reputation on.


That makes a kind of sense, but I'm a little stuck on the idea of his elaborate scaffolding for "what if incest... were actually great?" being "highbrow". You know that thing where you slowly become aware while reading a book that a "recurring theme" is probably the author's fetish? Because it just keeps somehow coming up in different contexts? That was the whole series that I read.

Wow, Farnham's Freehold does sound terrible. And... not uncharacteristic?
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at 00:50 on 25-06-2016, James D
Yeah, having the main character seriously threaten to kill his son (after fucking his girlfriend with the wife in the neighboring room) because he won't unquestioningly obey daddy's every command is a great way to make your point about the importance of obedience in a crisis, while also winning your audience over.

Oh, and I seem to remember that the reason the girlfriend went along with fucking daddy was because he was "alpha" while the son was "beta".

Which is re-emphasized later, when the son is content to stay as a slave to THE DECADENT BLACKS.
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at 22:35 on 24-06-2016, Arthur B
Ah yes, Farnham's Freehold. Where daddy's libertarian turns into violent authoritarianism as soon as there's a crisis situation.
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at 22:29 on 24-06-2016, James D
How the hell do Heinlein's books come so highly recommended, when they're like. The incest series, and the polyvangelist cult series.

I mean, I know he wrote other things, but the Lazarus Long stuff and the Stranger in a Strange Land stuff were what I found specifically recommended as great classic sci-fi or whatever, so that seems to be what people like about him...?


He did write some cool stuff - Have Spacesuit Will Travel is a fun YA adventure story with a minimum of political stuff (the protagonist's dad is a typical Heinleinian "fatherly libertarian know-it-all" character, but he exits the narrative early on). The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is more grown-up, and does have some political stuff, but it's more reasonable and he creates a very interesting and plausible (for the time) culture.

On the other hand, if you want to read one of the absolute WORST sci-fi novels ever written, look no further than Farnham's Freehold. It's got the absolute worst case of the "fatherly liberterian know-it-all" character ever, who within a few chapters is boning a much much younger woman (in a consensual but extremely creepy manner, given it was written by an older man) - and then nuclear war breaks out and...



teleports them to a world where decadent blacks rule everything and own whites as slaves. Yep.
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at 11:55 on 24-06-2016, Arthur B
I have been doing most of my talking about it on Facebook. My take on it is probably (especially now) way too grumpy for here and would drag the tone down.

The silver lining is that at least Cameron is paying the price for making a daft promise he never expected to have to actually follow through on. It's not much of one because we'll all be paying the price too.

Re: Heinlein - the thing about his work is that whilst the Lazarus Long stuff and Stranger In a Strange Land get hyped because they had highbrow pretensions and came out just when the idea of highbrow SF for grown-ups was getting a lot of currency, actually his "juveniles" (basically YA SF) which he wrote prior to that were what he built much of his reputation on.

It has been ages since I read him but I seem to remember him being able to tell a good story early on in his career where his more eccentric ideas didn't intrude, but they got more and more intrusive over the course of his career until you got dreck like The Number of the Beast.
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at 10:50 on 24-06-2016, Craverguy
Kind of surprised no one here is talking about the Brexit vote and Cameron's resignation.
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at 10:40 on 24-06-2016, Melanie
How the hell do Heinlein's books come so highly recommended, when they're like. The incest series, and the polyvangelist cult series.

I mean, I know he wrote other things, but the Lazarus Long stuff and the Stranger in a Strange Land stuff were what I found specifically recommended as great classic sci-fi or whatever, so that seems to be what people like about him...?
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at 21:58 on 23-06-2016, Adrienne
Dunno how folks feel about MetaFilter, but there's some interesting conversation going on in a thread over here that might be relevant to some folks' interests.
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at 18:00 on 20-06-2016, Robinson L
Alice: Rest in peace, Anton Yelchin. :(

Damn, but that's sad. Born in 89? Shit, he was younger than me. Such a tragedy.
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at 22:22 on 19-06-2016, Alice permalink
at 15:02 on 15-06-2016, Robinson L
Ah, okay, I must have misread.
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at 10:30 on 15-06-2016, Arthur B
@Robinson: Er... yeah, I was agreeing with you re: claimed vs. actual purpose of the militias, at least as far as the Constitution goes (which would be the relevant bit of law allowing this farce to go on to the present day).
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at 10:07 on 15-06-2016, Bill
Before the American Revolution, the militias were essentially the military force of the British American colonies. So they were used to fight Natives and suppress slave insurrections, but they were also used to fight the French colonists (who were also organized on a militia basis) in the various Anglo-French wars of the period. The British Army wasn't a factor in North America (the Navy is a somewhat different story) until the Seven Years War which began in America in 1754, two years before it began in Europe. Friction between the Army and the various colonial militias was a factor in precipitating the Revolution.
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at 03:00 on 15-06-2016, Robinson L
@Arthur: Huh, I thought I heard somewhere that militias were used for that purpose before the rebellion, and that state tyranny was thrown in as something of an afterthought.

Mind you, the late 20th century United States provides examples of groups with legitimate grievances using guns to fight the government when ballot boxes proved ineffective (thinking particularly of the Black Panther Party and American Indian Movement). As a pacifist, I obviously think violence is ultimately a self-defeating strategy, but I'm not so secure in my convictions as to say the government should be allowed to disarm people like the Panthers or AIM members who believe those weapons are necessary for their communities' protection. But I fear I'm in danger of derailing the conversation on the Orlando tragedy, so perhaps I shouldn't expound on this topic any further at present.


@James: I hadn't heard any of that, no - thank you for sharing. It does serve to humanize the shooter, in a way, but not deny or deemphasize the horror and tragedy of what he did. As you said, it's a very complicated issue, and the results are just awful. So many wondrous, precious lives, wastefully cut short before their time.

I don't know of anyone close to me who was even peripherally affected - I heard a branch manager of the chain store I work at might have been among the victims, but that doesn't feel all that close to me. Still, I've been thinking today about all the people I know who might have been injured or killed had the attack taken place at another club somewhere else in the country.
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at 21:34 on 14-06-2016, James D
I didn't see if this was brought up yet, but apparently Omar Mateen was also a regular at the club he attacked and was well-known there. He also had a same-sex dating app on his phone. Apparently he was very conflicted about his own sexuality, but, according to people who frequented the same clubs, didn't really fit in very well in the gay community either.

So, like most things, this seems to be a very complicated issue with many motivating factors on every level.

Regardless, it's a terrible tragedy. A few of the victims happened to work for the Florida branch of the same company I work for, and while I live in a different state and never knew them, it definitely makes this more real to me than other disasters.
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at 21:21 on 14-06-2016, Arthur B
Yeah, and am I wrong that the necessity for those "well-regulated militias" referred to in the 2nd Amendment was to fight those bloodthirsty Injuns who perfidiously pre-invaded our land thousands of years before we had an inkling it even existed, and to deal with legally and lawfully owned human beings trying to run away from their chattelhood? Because if not, I can totally see that's a necessity which has stood the test of time.

Well, the declared purpose of that militia - its actual use in practice was of course closer to what you were talking about - was, as gun people like to remind us, to allow the citizenry to rebel against a tyrannical central government.

And when the Confederacy popped up, a terrible lesson was learned: any group willing to use guns to fight the government when they had access to the ballot box (as the southern slaveowners did) is a group you really don't want to win in a stand-up fight. (And if the ballot box is no longer an option, the rule of law has kind of gone away anyway.)
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at 20:36 on 14-06-2016, Robinson L
This is all just horrific, and the reactions to it are sickening, disgusting, and sadly, entirely unsurprising.

That Reuters piece plays a little bit of the Humanizing the Killer game the media plays after a white person goes on a shooting spree, getting some neutral or ambivalent remarks from people who knew him, but after a paragraph of his former spouse describing him as violent and abusive. Also note how his (possible) political/religious affiliations are placed front and center in the article narrative (and in the title), rather than downplayed or ignored entirely.


Melanie: (I am queer, and bitter.)

With good fucking reason, clearly.


Sidebar:

Arthur: Or the argument that random members of the public having assault rifles stashed in their closets constitute anything resembling a "well-regulated militia".

Yeah, and am I wrong that the necessity for those "well-regulated militias" referred to in the 2nd Amendment was to fight those bloodthirsty Injuns who perfidiously pre-invaded our land thousands of years before we had an inkling it even existed, and to deal with legally and lawfully owned human beings trying to run away from their chattelhood? Because if not, I can totally see that's a necessity which has stood the test of time.
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at 03:59 on 14-06-2016, Melanie
What with most of the victims apparently also being Latino, it seems to add insult to injury that, of course, people want to blame "immigrants", despite the shooter having been born here.
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at 09:30 on 13-06-2016, Fin
This news destroyed me. I wasn't able to function yesterday and don't feel much better today. I'm only two degrees of separation from some of the victims. And while we're mourning our dead opportunistic scum are downplaying the role homophobia played in this tragedy and capitalising on it to fuel their Islamophobia. I've already had one cishet guy yelling at me last night for having the audacity to include Muslims in my call for love and solidarity yesterday. Cishets have been dehumanising us and when someone acts on that hatred they want to decouple the bigotry from the act so they can scapegoat their pet boogeyman. It's sickening.
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at 08:33 on 13-06-2016, Arthur B
Or the argument that if more people at the club had guns it wouldn't be so bad, because having more guns in that dark, noisy, confusing confined space would have made it safer.

Or the conspiracy theories that it was faked/provoked so Obama could Take Our Guns.

Or the argument that random members of the public having assault rifles stashed in their closets constitute anything resembling a "well-regulated militia".

I really want the conversation around this mass shooting to not just follow the same limp pattern that the discussion of every mass shooting for the past decade or two has followed, but I hold out little hope.
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at 03:09 on 13-06-2016, Melanie
Yes, and I also can't wait for millions of christians to suddenly "care" about homophobia to the extent that they can frame it as a uniquely islamic problem and not something that christianity, specifically, has been the major driving force behind and/or the most convenient excuse for in this country.

Or for them to just ignore that it was a gay club. Either way.

Also for gun fetishists to come out of the fucking woodwork to complain about "politicizing" this, because obviously we should treat every mass shooting as a separate, unique incident that could not have been prevented in any way. Because that always happens.

(I am queer, and bitter.)
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at 20:43 on 12-06-2016, Ichneumon
I'm with Ms. McGowan here. Besides being just ugly, it does have some really unfortunate sexist implications, to say the least. It's probably a product of tone-deafness more than overt misogyny, but it's just... *bad.*

On a much, much worse note: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-florida-shooting-nightclub-idUSKCN0YY08B

So, people on the right here are going to spin this into more Islamophobic bullshit, but before I read the whole "this guy was apparently a Da‘esh fanboy" thing, my first thought was, "This has to be some kind of neo-Nazi thing." But ultimately, there's not much difference, is there? It's frenzied reactionary rhetoric with an added dose of religious fanaticism and barely disguised sadism. This idea that it's really about God more than it is about any elevating cause oriented around hate just makes it easier for the other potential murderers-by-proxy to pretend they're different and special and better when they're really not.

It's scary being queer, you know?
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at 01:15 on 05-06-2016, Craverguy
Speaking of the latest X-Men movie, the latest brouhaha in Hollywood is over whether or not a billboard portraying Apocalypse neck lifting Mystique promotes violence against women.

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jun/03/rose-mcgowan-criticises-violent-x-men-poster-as-offensive-and-frankly-stupid
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at 18:30 on 01-06-2016, Robinson L
So, I enjoyed the latest X-Men movie. Felt like they did a good job establishing the villain, and the opening sequence got me really pumped. Liked what they did with Jean Grey and Cyclops, and could have done with more Jubilee. Really liked the way all the characters came together to defeat the villain in the end - it really felt like a team effort. And it was awesome to see
the Phoenix
used for good for a change. Also glad that Professor Xavier finally
restored Moira MacTaggart's memories
. The little touches with dialogue and character moments were also very effective for the most part (perhaps too effective at times - I'll come back to that). Despite a huge cast, it managed to stuff in quite a bit of (mostly excellent) character development spread out around its main players. Favorite sequence of the movie was probably Quicksilver goofing around while saving a crap load of people from an explosion and listening to Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" on his walkman.

I have many minor issues with the movie of course, but only two really big ones. The first is that it often feels unfocused: it has a hard time keeping track of all the characters and their activities in the middle part of the movie before they all come together into two distinct groups for the third act. I get the feeling several scenes were left on the cutting room floor, especially ones dealing with Jean, Scott, Kurt, and Jubilee hanging out at the mall. And while I liked the team effort feeling of the climax, it was also quite cluttered, with certain characters - namely
Jean, Magneto, and Storm
- taking an inexplicably long amount of time to step in and make their contribution. It actually reminded me a bit of the climax to Star Trek Phase II's "Blood and Fire," where characters likewise just sort of hung around uselessly for a while until the script called for them to intervene.

My one big complaint is that the film introduced its single most compelling subplot by far for the sole and express purpose of stuffing it into the fridge and delivering a much more familiar and simplistic character arc instead. Boo.
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