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 16:14 on 08-05-2013, Arthur B
I'm finding variations on 'welcome to the internet' particularly annoying right now.

You must be new here.

Like that, you mean?

On the other hand, linking to a ridiculous article by a PUA to make fun of it turns out to be a good way to get the measure of some of my Facebook friends.

Yes, I imagine it's useful for trimming down your friends list...
at 15:43 on 08-05-2013, Fin
I'm finding variations on 'welcome to the internet' particularly annoying right now. On the other hand, linking to a ridiculous article by a PUA to make fun of it turns out to be a good way to get the measure of some of my Facebook friends.
at 10:16 on 08-05-2013, Arthur B
It's the sort of position you can only take if you're not actually in any serious danger of having your property or person threatened because of people "just voicing their opinions".

Aaaah, a catchphrase only mildly less infuriating than "playing Devil's Advocate".
at 09:45 on 08-05-2013, Axiomatic
Well, if speech isn't real, then obviously they can't complain about you (or anyone else) demanding that the person be fired. After all, all you're doing is speaking, and there's no way merely doing something saying like "I want you to fire him" could have real-world consequences.

Because as we've established, saying stuff isn't doing anything, and there's no way you could actually harm him merely by speaking words that demand he be terminated.
at 09:04 on 08-05-2013, Adrienne
Axiomatic: I don't think it's about respect, per se -- they fail to respect people all the time over there, for saying stupid shit. The thing that was apparently really over the top is that i was suggesting actual, like, real-world consequences for speech, which is, y'know, not a real thing. Or something. Seriously, that whole thread ends up full of people who are on about how any real-world consequence, especially firing and such, is just too horrible for when someone hasn't done anything -- as if speaking isn't doing anything.

Which is a tremendously privileged position to take, as well as a fairly incoherent one. (Someone really needs to educate these people on the whole linguistic paradigm of locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts.) It's the sort of position you can only take if you're not actually in any serious danger of having your property or person threatened because of people "just voicing their opinions".

One of the folks who shows up later in the thread is actually a friend of mine, who popped over to see what all the fuss was about -- so even though he is also taking a variant of the "speech isn't real and we shouldn't respond to it except by arguing!" position, i have some hope i can actually educate him, at least.
at 17:53 on 06-05-2013, Arthur B
You know what I'm pathologically devoted to? Shit Rough Drafts.

The Fifty Shades of Grey one is quite good.
at 08:33 on 06-05-2013, Axiomatic
Also pathologically devoted to free speech.

They do appear to think that not only are you obligated to let people say whatever they want to say (which is a good idea) but that you are then obligated to respect them for it (which is not).
at 05:15 on 06-05-2013, Adrienne
In fairness, he did offer me a guest post, after the comment in which i said i was leaving the thread. I just sent him an email, saying i don't want one, but would he please update his post with one of my later, clarifying comments? So we'll see how that goes over.

Public vilification: it's exhausting! Who knew?
at 04:56 on 05-05-2013, Adrienne
Axiomatic, Popehat is generally awesome, but that's because Clark is a fairly infrequent poster. The two most common posters are Ken and Patrick, and both are hugely entertaining, especially Ken. Mind you, i am so far to the left of them both politically that they probably can't see me over the horizon -- but they are still awesome writers. Also pathologically devoted to free speech. So no, Clark's not going to get banned. Ken did argue with him some in comments on the original thread that started the kerfuffle (that is, the one in which i made the comment that got me vilified). And the other co-blogger, David, has been making some pretty critical remarks about in in all of the related threads.
at 18:33 on 04-05-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I've really enjoyed a lot of the articles on Less Wrong, but I tend to stay away from the comments and the community, because a lot of it degenerates into the usual male geek whine about how hard it is to get laid and how terribly stupid women are. Since there now seem to be more women writing for them, there's more active resistance against that nonsense.

Still, a lot of people there do seem more interested in talking about how good they are at changing their minds based on evidence than in actually doing anything useful with that ability, and particularly how superior this makes them to everyone else. Not all of them, but enough that it gets annoying.
at 18:01 on 04-05-2013, Bryn
Wait a second, so he's 'extremely (perhaps pathologically) capable of sticking to his opinions' and yet also has '[changed] his mind dozens of times'? Does that seem consistent to you?

To interpret those claims charitably, I think he's claiming that he will (and does) change his mind given good reason, but not because of 'social opprobrium'. Though the 'even' does muddle that interpretation a bit. And although those statements can be made consistent, they're pretty unlikely to be true.

I'm not sure what strain of transhumanist he is, but a lot of them are enthusiastic propoents of the ideas presented on the blog Less Wrong (link to Rational Wiki, not direct to LW), which makes a big deal about changing your mind in response to new evidence (according to Bayes's Theorem, which they completely fetishize) but also not in response to social pressure. I think both of those are pretty good principles to aim for (but the rest of Less Wrong ends up somewhere between hilarious and creepy, and there are better, less cultish places to read about epistemology) but holding up your ability to do those things in an argument is definitely Doing It Wrong.
at 17:47 on 04-05-2013, Melanie
1) I say things that may or may not make me appear to be an a-hole.

He's not an asshole, he just appears to be one. Seems legit!
at 16:38 on 04-05-2013, Daniel F
Wait a second, so he's 'extremely (perhaps pathologically) capable of sticking to his opinions' and yet also has '[changed] his mind dozens of times'? Does that seem consistent to you?
at 12:47 on 04-05-2013, Arthur B
I have been socially shunned for my opinions, and I've survived. The fact that I'm an nerdy INTJ who's extremely (perhaps pathologically) capable of sticking to his opinions even in the face of social opprobrium that has allowed me to explore lots of ideas, argue about them out loud, and change my mind dozens of times, so the causality implied by the previous sentence is backwards: it's not that I'm tough that has allowed me to survive the shunning, it's that I knew up front that I could survive the shunning that allowed me to explore ideas and embrace fairly crazy ideas like voluntaryism, transhumanism, modified Newtonian dynamics and Catholicism.


OK, I've no beef with Catholics (I have plenty of reservations about the Church as an institution but that puts me in the company of a lot of awesome Catholics these days), though I struggle to see how someone would reconcile Catholicism with some transhumanist goals.

As for the others, woooow, crank science plus transhumanism plus voluntaryism? This guy's packing in nonsense beliefs like he's got a clown car for a brain. I'm not surprised he's very used to being shunned for his beliefs but those three beliefs rammed together don't make him a thought criminal, they make him a total cartoon.

I love that he wheels out the whole "marketplace of ideas" thing too. You know what happens in marketplaces when you back the wrong horse? You lose your investment, and if your investment was heavy enough (you backed a particular idea loudly and clearly enough) you might end up in deep shit. Why should the marketplace of ideas be any different?
at 12:34 on 04-05-2013, Axiomatic
>In the Cold War, how did the US act as a beacon of freedom? By suppressing unpopular beliefs such as Communism, Bircherism, and so on? Or by tolerating them and showing the world that an open free society is so strong that it has nothing to fear from petty stupidities?

>The latter.


Oh my word. This guy literally knows NOTHING about 20th century history, does he? I mean there are things living under things that live under rocks that know more about the US and the Cold War than Clark.
at 12:31 on 04-05-2013, Axiomatic
Adrienne, I'm not familiar with popehat's posting culture, apart from that apparently being an ignorant ass isn't a banning offence...but I do wonder that he wasn't, apparently, mocked at all.
at 10:02 on 04-05-2013, Robinson L
Oh, you know you're in trouble when just the title of the post makes you cringe.
at 10:01 on 04-05-2013, Adrienne
I really, really am not very fond of his positions, and i'm even less fond of them now that I know that he thinks Muslims may worship Satan. I mean, fucking SERIOUSLY?
at 09:09 on 04-05-2013, Axiomatic
I've only made a cursory exploration of that whole conversation, but you really should have bailed out the second Clark went on his "Well, I'm not offended so nobody else can reasonably be!" spiel.
at 06:35 on 04-05-2013, Adrienne
Meanwhile, i'm being vilified on an A-list blog for having said that it's reprehensible and disgusting to imply that Muslims are deluded and actually worship Satan. (And i'm also being slightly misrepresented; if you go read, please read down past the OP at least to my first comment in the thread.)

I'm a *wreck* right now; i slept all day and evening, pretty much. I'm not ashamed of what i said, but holy crap i am not doing well.
at 23:05 on 29-04-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I think it's that I've reached my misogyny limit for now and I can't really handle such a large dosage at a time. I'm sure the book itself is worth reading, but I'm just not feeling it at the moment.
at 18:01 on 29-04-2013, Alice
@ Fishing in the Mud: I remember that bit leading to a fair bit of discussion in the podcast, too.

I found it off-putting initially, but read it largely as Marian attempting to leaven with somewhat bitter tongue-in-cheek humour her frustration at the contemporary view of women and the expectations/limitations placed on them -- expectations which led to many (most?) women acting as they were expected to, namely passive and "sweet-tempered and charming" and "flighty" and "inattentive" and so on. I did read it as Marian having internalised Victorian misogyny to an extent as well, but on the whole I read it as her disagreeing with the contemporary view of women, but perhaps being unable to express this in language other than that of men looking down on women.

I think it's definitely a "your mileage may vary" thing, and a less charitable reading than mine is certainly supported by the text! And with all the books out there to choose from, there's no reason to keep on reading something that you find disgusting. :-)
at 16:26 on 29-04-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I enjoyed the first chapter or so of The Woman in White, but when Marian came along to make her "Dude, bro, chicks totally suck am I right" speech at Walter, my brain reeled in shock and never really recovered from the disgust of it. I appreciate the realism, but maybe I'll be more willing to swim in that muck some other time.
at 18:17 on 27-04-2013, Alice
@Shimmin: It is so great, I was in a constant state of glee at how great it was. And when I say "how great it was", about 90% of that is "how awesome Marian Halcombe is". :-D

I actually picked up The God of Small Things about ten years ago: it was someone else's copy, so I didn't get very far into it - somewhere not far past the Orangedrink Lemondrink Man. At least, that's the only scene I remember clearly, though I do remember thinking the book was beautifully written. It's one I've been meaning to pick up ever since, actually, but since I also remember it being incredibly sad, I've never quite managed to.

But I will say that the podcast has pushed it back up near the top of my to-read list. In fact, Ferretbrain podcasts have been a major factor in my recent reading habits, having been responsible for my picking up or re-reading The Woman in White, Cotillion, Gaudy Night, The Maltese Falcon, Wolf Hall, Vampire Academy (and sequels), Glass Houses (and the next in the series), and Lirael & Abhorsen (the last two because of a side discussion in one of the podcasts about awesome librarian characters in fiction).

In fact, thinking about it, it seems I get the majority of my book recommendations from Ferretbrain...