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 19:49 on 18-02-2014, Tamara
I don't know the details in Finland, but i'm a little skeptical of that narrative. Engineering a baby-boom is incredibly difficult. Iran and Russia, amongst others, are trying very hard right now and it's not going too well. Tax breaks and cash don't hurt, per se, but if couples are set against having a child *now*, a tax break isn't going to do much to change their minds, at least that's what all the data i'm familiar with shows. Demographics, what little i've studied of it, seems to be a goofy field. The actual data tends to be obscure, and is often weirdly counterintuitive.
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at 17:24 on 18-02-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
I guess the post-war boom is much better presented in statistics and is a thing in other places besides the US. And makes some sense too. Of course in Finland, the boom was a deliberate policy, families got significant tax breaks and even cold hard cash from the government for having children.
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at 13:29 on 18-02-2014, Tamara
A *little* - there was a marriage (and birth) boom BEFORE WW2 in the USA (it carried on after, taking a pause for the war.) It's doubtful that it quite matches the image of couples desperately hooking up before he takes off to Germany or whathaveyou though, not statistically. More to do with cohort-wide labour force participation and other incredibly boring stuff.
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at 11:37 on 18-02-2014, Arthur B
I think it was meant to be reminiscent of couples rushing to get married at the start of World War II before the man gets called up, which is a cultural motif which may or may not have any basis in actual statistics.
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at 11:06 on 18-02-2014, Tamara
Demographically suspect though - wars and times of uncertainty tend to see people postponing marriage and childbirth. I know, I know, of all the things to nitpick, but still. Check out East German birthrates falling off a cliff in the early 90's, for example. http://www.berlin-institut.org/online-handbookdemography/east-germany.html
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at 10:10 on 18-02-2014, Arthur B
So... yeah, I'd chalk it up as the sort of thing that works fine in the early Potter books, but which falls apart in the latter half of the series.

And indeed I do find it much less jarring when it comes to Harry's parents in the early books than it is with Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione.

To be fair, I don't remember (but might be forgetting) any suggestion in the early books that James and Lily married immediately on graduating from Hogwarts. It'd make sense that they met there, of course, because so far as I can tell it's the only wizarding school in the UK so if two British wizards happen to marry and are close to each other in age they probably were at Hogwarts at the same time. But there's scope in the early books, before the chronology got more tightly nailed down, that there may have been a substantial gap between them graduating Hogwarts and them getting married and having Harry. (Indeed, the movies seemed to assume this earlier on in the process, casting actors for James and Lily who looked substantially older than 21.) But that isn't how it goes.

Supposedly, a lot of James and Lily's generation married soon after leaving Hogwarts because the First Wizarding War was kicking off and everyone was worried about the future and whether anyone would even survive. I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense, but equally it makes Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione's marriages even more bizarre because the threat of Voldemort was thorougly and permanently stamped out before they even left school - surely that'd mean there was no rush?
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at 05:09 on 18-02-2014, Adrienne
Heretical as it may be to say around here, I actually rather like today's XKCD.
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at 05:09 on 18-02-2014, Adrienne
Currently my fallen london name is just my Twitter handle, which is @adrienneleigh.
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at 03:35 on 18-02-2014, James D
Adrienne: what's your Fallen London name? I can send you stuff.
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at 02:26 on 18-02-2014, Daniel F
What gets me about the romantic outcomes of Potter is all these people who marry folk they met in secondary school.


I think that might be a conceit of the genre? In Harry Potter, everything important that ever happens to a person happens to them at high school. This is, of course, not terribly realistic, but it is the sort of thing that high school students - or even primary school students - tend to believe. Hogwarts is the centre of the world in the Potter series just as high school seems like the centre of the world while you're in it.

I'd put it in the same category as, say, Voldemort founding an evil cult and plotting to take over the world in year ten. Of course it's ridiculous, but it's the sort of ridiculousness that makes sense to the intended audience of the first two or three Potter books. I think Dan mentioned it in an old article: In a children's series set in a boarding school, you can accept the idea that the path to world domination begins in the sixth form.

Similarly, in a children's series set in a boarding school, I can accept that your high school girlfriend/boyfriend is the person you'll be with for the rest of your life. It's like that old punchline from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. "At sixteen, it's always true love."

So... yeah, I'd chalk it up as the sort of thing that works fine in the early Potter books, but which falls apart in the latter half of the series.
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at 00:12 on 18-02-2014, Ash
@Adrienne
I am Sycorax in Fallen London, a midnight, sinister and sagacious individual of mysterious and indistinct gender, and apparently the Lilac Lady hates me. I haven't sen her in ages!

I can't send you any gifts right now because I have do some grinding first, but I would be delighted to trade (non-Fate) gifts with you. Do you want anything in particular or should we just trade one of each?
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at 19:51 on 17-02-2014, Tamara
it seems jarring to have Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermoine still solidly together years down the line. Not impossible, but doesn't ring true.

That was a very odd turn into this weird, kind of American highschool fantasy thing. I read my fair share of British boarding school books, and I don't remember that ever being a thing. (Admittednly, they were also all girls-only.) It always struck me as odd not so much for the lack of realism but for breaking the genre codes and the tone of the world. These people should go off and become - equally unrealistic, and un-modern, of course - eccentric dons, pith-helmet-wearing adventurers and lady pirates of something. That're what the world of Harry Potter seemed to offer - tot settling down with kids and spouses at age 20, with everything but the proverbial picket fence!
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at 12:02 on 17-02-2014, Adrienne
ON a completely different note: do any Ferreteers play Echo Bazaar/Fallen London? Because I am having a terrible Feast of the Exceptional Rose owing to not being connected to any active players to speak of.
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at 12:01 on 17-02-2014, Adrienne
Arthur B -- I know, right? I know ONE couple who met when they were in secondary school; bona-fide high school sweethearts, married as soon as she graduated (she is slightly younger), etc. Everyone else I know who swore deathless love in high school was over it by about the third semester of college.
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at 11:58 on 17-02-2014, Arthur B
What gets me about the romantic outcomes of Potter is all these people who marry folk they met in secondary school. Considering how much growth as a person you do once you leave school and how rare it is that school romances survive the participants emerging into the wider world and having the freedom as an adult to consider a wider variety of options, it seems jarring to have Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermoine still solidly together years down the line. Not impossible, but doesn't ring true.
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at 11:27 on 17-02-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
Well, some of the others might have been smart, but Hermione was also the only one who actually worked hard and had any academic ambitions at all, seemingly the only one who was actually interested enough in magic that she actually wanted to study it seriously and who probably had ambitions for her future as well. Also she seemed more interested in developing herself in general than the others. If Harry had spent more time studying than flying around, then perhaps things would have gone differently. But curiously the plot always seemed to work in a way that the flying, for example, was of paramount importance at some point or another.
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at 04:06 on 17-02-2014, Adrienne
I was always pretty disgusted at the idea that Hermione would end up with either of the male protags. She's way too good for both of them, being the only character with any actual brains in the whole series as far as I can tell.
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at 16:33 on 09-02-2014, Sister Magpie
I thought i'd share, my sister just informed me that the furor - at least in some quarters - around JK Rowling's shipping thing has much less to do with questions of reading practice and authority over the text, and more with the fact that this has brought to light explosive new information about a once-vicious shipping war. It's the Nuremberg trials of Great Harry Potter Shipping War.



Yeah, to me it felt like H/Hr finally had something to lobby back against the infamous "delusional" comment (which wasn't actually from JKR, but the sentiment still stood). She's not saying H/Hr were canon, but she's giving some validation to the H/Hr shippers who thought they were a better couple than R/Hr.
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at 12:37 on 05-02-2014, Tamara
I thought i'd share, my sister just informed me that the furor - at least in some quarters - around JK Rowling's shipping thing has much less to do with questions of reading practice and authority over the text, and more with the fact that this has brought to light explosive new information about a once-vicious shipping war. It's the Nuremberg trials of Great Harry Potter Shipping War.
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at 14:03 on 03-02-2014, Tamara
I had been entirely unaware of all of this...as an activist, I find this is a perfectly fascinating thing to have an organized protest around (I don't mean that disparagingly even.)
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at 13:53 on 03-02-2014, Daniel F
Yeah, pretty much. You can argue that sending it directly to their offices was too intrusive, but as you say, it doesn't single anyone out, it comments on the issue without being rude, and it's a little tongue-in-cheek. The ME3 ending protesters were very careful to moderate their tone. You might also have heard of them raising $80,000 for charity in protest? (Again, mostly spoiler-free.)

Er, that's not to say that there weren't also death threats and the like, because you can't shut those down entirely on the internet. But the 'mainstream' protest did a good job of being civil. It helped to give their cause more legitimacy. I wasn't particularly enthused by ME3 personally, but the reaction to the game and the protests were incredibly fascinating for me.
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at 13:45 on 03-02-2014, Tamara
That's just adorable. It's civil, clever, snarky, not personally targeted at anyone and still in a way appreciative...a little overinvested, maybe, but that's fair enough. It's a world away from the harrassment the other article described.
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at 13:41 on 03-02-2014, Daniel F
Cupcakes? (Still just planning to play ME2 sometime soon.)


Rather a lot of people were unhappy about the ME3 endings, and as a form of protest, some fans sent a delivery of cupcakes to the developers. (No major spoilers in the link.) Honestly, as far as game-related protests go, it was pretty civil.
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at 13:34 on 03-02-2014, Tamara
Cupcakes? (Still just planning to play ME2 sometime soon.)

To rethink a bit, I think i'm actually not ok with authors taking back their oopsies. (I mean, I'm not campaigning here, do what you like and all that, but as a matter of personal taste.) If we strip all the weird, personal, awkward, uncomfortable, kinky, wish-fulfillment, working-through-stuff, evindence-author-is-not-a-flawless-human-being aspects out of art, we might have technically more even art, but a lot of it is probably going to be a lot less interesting. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.
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