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 02:55 on 22-10-2013, Arthur B
Yeah, see it turns out that "Friends" are electric, and Ferretbrain's broke down (so Ferretbrain has no-one to love).
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at 02:25 on 22-10-2013, Michal
Wait wait wait wait...does Ferretbrain even have a "Friends" page anymore? Because I don't see one on the sidebar.
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at 02:02 on 22-10-2013, Bookwyrm
Would I like to have superhuman powers? Maybe - I can see pros and cons, even setting aside the social aspects.


That's an interesting thought, if you had superpowers what would you do? I would like to be a superhero but realistically I don't think I could handle the psychological strain.
What do all of you think? If you could choose your superpowers and decide to become superhero what type of hero would you be?
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at 01:49 on 22-10-2013, Melanie
was not aware of any anti-feminist connotations, I'm afraid.


Alright then; I hoped that was all it was.

As far as that community goes I'm more inclined to get angry at MetaMed, though. At least HPMOR is just a repulsive work of fan fiction: MetaMed is a scam with the potential to cause real, physical harm.


Oh, I haven't heard of MetaMed, let's just... see... what...
their management includes some names LWers will find familiar, and their researchers know math and stats and in many cases have also read LessWrong.


...Is it just me, or is there sort of a cult-like vibe to them listing "have read our website" as a qualification?
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at 01:34 on 22-10-2013, Bookwyrm
I'm genuinely curious: why do you want to comment on Chiusse's blog/post? Do you disagree with their opinions? With their tone? Would you like clarification on what they mean? Basically: what is it that's prompting you to respond to their post(s)?

The problem I had was the tone. The hyberbole and the idea that "men ruined everything" really bothers me but I'm not sure how literally I'm supposed to take this post. But still the vitriol makes me feel uncomfortable.
Also, this post felt different from the other ones. In the other posts when Chimuse makes a point they back it up with essay. In this one it's just "this thing was ruined by men" with an embedded link. That's why I wanted to comment, I wanted to know why this post was so different in tone and format than the other ones. I don't think I will comment on the blog. I'm almost sorry I brought it up. :(
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at 00:35 on 22-10-2013, Daniel F
Why are you both using "strident" specifically when that word has such ugly, and pertinent, connotations?


I was not aware of any anti-feminist connotations, I'm afraid. May I rephrase? I meant that I found the author to be strongly opinionated and outspoken.

I know that's a difficult thing to say, especially since it has the potential to come off as trying to stifle feminist criticisms, or suggest that they have no place in reviews of terrible fantasy novels. I'm not trying to do that. I suppose I found Chiusse's good and interesting criticisms to occasionally be undercut by criticisms that I thought were a bit beyond the pale. Perhaps I am being uncharitable.

Incidentally, I do agree with the posted criticisms of HPMOR. It's the tip of the iceberg. It's a gateway into Less Wrong as a whole, and from what I have seen, it gets worse. As far as that community goes I'm more inclined to get angry at MetaMed, though. At least HPMOR is just a repulsive work of fan fiction: MetaMed is a scam with the potential to cause real, physical harm.
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at 23:20 on 21-10-2013, Melanie
Why are you both using "strident" specifically when that word has such ugly, and pertinent, connotations?

I also really liked Chiusse's takedown of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.


Yeah, me too. I used to follow that fic, until the author decided to get on his high horse in a fairly disgusting way in one of the author's notes*, and it's sort of... gruesomely interesting... to see how far down the rabbit hole it has apparently gone.


*Now deleted--for some reason he had (has?) a habit of doing an author's note for every single chapter, and then deleting it when he put the next chapter (and a new author's note) up. But basically he was whining that he didn't get as many comments about Voldemort's story of torturing a bunch of people to death as he got about Draco casually threatening rape earlier in the story, and that this was very wrong of the readership.
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at 15:02 on 21-10-2013, Alice
I'm tempted to comment on the blog and ask what brought this on.
But I'm kind of afraid to. I don't want to get into a fight with someone I don't know over the Internet. Any thoughts?

(Bookwyrm )

I didn't get to that post, but I can't say I'm a fan of it either.

The thing is, I can't figure out how to have a friendly discussion about it on FerretBrain, much less by posting on that blog. I don't know if that's good advice for you, but I know I wouldn't risk it.

(Daniel F)

I started typing out my thoughts about this, but they were getting really long and not necessarily gaining in coherence. But my gut response was one of slight befuddlement, so -- with the understanding that as a pretty conflict-averse person, I would also like to keep things friendly! -- I have a question.

I'm genuinely curious: why do you want to comment on Chiusse's blog/post? Do you disagree with their opinions? With their tone? Would you like clarification on what they mean? Basically: what is it that's prompting you to respond to their post(s)?

(Okay, that's more like five questions rather than one, but you get the idea.)
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at 15:00 on 21-10-2013, Bryn
I'm with Arthur and Janne on that piece. I really don't see what there is to object to, unless you take it absurdly over-literally.

I also really liked Chiusse's takedown of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.
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at 11:33 on 21-10-2013, Daniel F
I liked some of Chiusse's points as well, and still think plenty of them have merit, but the... um, stridency eventually put me off as well. I didn't get to that post, but I can't say I'm a fan of it either.

The thing is, I can't figure out how to have a friendly discussion about it on FerretBrain, much less by posting on that blog. I don't know if that's good advice for you, but I know I wouldn't risk it.
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at 11:30 on 21-10-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
The anger and the frustration seem to be valid enough and as the links provide very real examples of the things which cause said frustration and anger, it might be a bit hard to really argue against it, except for being hyperbolic, as Arthur noted, but that does seem a bit too obvious a thing to say and misses the point of it.

I guess if one would like to take this as something else than a polemical piece, all sorts of critiques would be possible, but that would really be kind of aggressive and dependent on twisting the purpose of said hyperbole. Well, as I see it anyways.
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at 10:47 on 21-10-2013, Arthur B
What in particular are you taking issue with there? "Men have ruined [thing]" is hyperbole (if [thing] were ruined that'd imply it couldn't possibly be reclaimed or give value and I don't think that's a position the writer is seriously taking), but the post seems to be exhaustively sourced when it comes to pointing out ways men have created an unpleasant environment.
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at 04:10 on 21-10-2013, Bookwyrm
The general tone is a bit strident for my taste, and I think the author is a little unfair to Sanderson's plotting and characterization, but I appreciate the perspective and there are a lot of good points in there.

Same here. I don't always agree with the author but he/she(?) raises some good points. I was with the author until I came across this piece.
I'm tempted to comment on the blog and ask what brought this on.
But I'm kind of afraid to. I don't want to get into a fight with someone I don't know over the Internet. Any thoughts?
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at 00:57 on 21-10-2013, Jamie Johnston
@Alasdair & James: I think to some extent the issues you've pointed out with Welcome to Night Vale may be matters of taste and expectation. It isn't really horrifying or scary or disturbing and if that's what you hoped or were led to believe it would be then it's fair enough if you're disappointed. I don't know whether you're going further and saying that it's actually bad because it doesn't explore the nature of evil like Twin Peaks does or because it invites the audience to be amused rather than terrified by tentacle-monsters. It doesn't seem to me that it's trying or claiming to be anything other than a sitcom.

Pear and I were just talking about how a lot of genres become established as an alliance between a certain type of story and a certain selection of setting / character elements. For example, classic fantasy tends to be heroic cosmic-political drama told using magic, pre-industrial pseudo-history, dragons, humanoid but non-human races, &c. But there's no reason why all heroic cosmic-political dramas have to involve any of those items, and equally no reason why you can't tell any other sort of story using those items. Space-ships and aliens have by now been used for all sorts of stories: sitcoms (Red Dwarf, Third rock from the sun), war films (Aliens), ghost stories (Solaris), and so on. Welcome to Night Vale uses a lot of the paraphernalia of Lovecraftian monster-horror and Lynchian things-are-not-what-they-seem horror but tells a completely different type of story with them, and I don't think that makes it less good than the 'originals' (because it's an entirely different thing and isn't really in competition with them), and I also don't think it devalues the 'originals' (because they still exist and are as good as they ever were).

In fact the relationship with Twin Peaks is quite interesting because although there are a lot of superficial similarities the underlying approaches are almost opposites. In Twin Peaks the big thing is that things are not what they seem and there's weird stuff going on under the surface, which is emphasized by the use of a view-point character who's an outsider. Welcome to Night Vale reverses that: everything is exactly what it seems, namely supernatural and full of monsters; the weird stuff is firmly on the surface, and the view-point character is not only an insider but actually part of the apparatus by which the weirdness is normalized. I think it would be wrong to regard it as merely sub-Twin Peaks rather than a self-conscious and playful subversion of it (among other things). Which may not be your cup of damn fine coffee, of course, but deserves a bit more credit, I'd suggest.
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at 22:02 on 19-10-2013, Robinson L
@Melanie: Good point. I'd be mightily ticked off if I ended up with Rogue's powers, for instance.

Reaching back a bit:
Bryn: This review blog may be of interest to Ferretbrain! It promotes diverse SFF but is quite willing to be harsh when warranted.

Also they have some really good looking collections of queer SFF short fiction + SFF short fiction by Asian and African and Caribbean writers.

Thanks for sharing, Bryn. Those authors all sound like they'd be worth getting into (well, except the poets, that's just not my thing), but I don't have time just now to hunt up and read two dozen books or magazines, but having those short stories collected right there and free to read - nice (especially since so many of them are already available on audio.

In other news, I'm surprised nobody's posted this already: Hell No: the Sensible Horror Film, "the most realistic horror movie ever," "with a surprise twist you'll ... probably see coming."

And finally, I just got this from the library and have been quite enjoying it: William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope.
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at 01:20 on 19-10-2013, Melanie
Would I like to have superhuman powers? Maybe - I can see pros and cons, even setting aside the social aspects. Would I like to have some prick come along and bestow superhuman powers upon me without my knowledge or consent? I don't think so.


Especially since, in the X-Men universe in particular, superpowers are basically a crap shoot: you could get something cool and useful, or, you could get something that makes you--completely involuntarily--a danger to everyone around you. Or you could get something that gives you far too much power over other people, like Xavier himself.
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at 22:20 on 18-10-2013, Michal
As long as we're tossing around recommendations, this podcast is entirely devoted to "Girl Books for Girls" and makes for easy listening.
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at 20:30 on 18-10-2013, Robinson L
Alice: New to me, so thanks for the recommendation, Adrienne!

Ditto. The general tone is a bit strident for my taste, and I think the author is a little unfair to Sanderson's plotting and characterization, but I appreciate the perspective and there are a lot of good points in there. I especially liked the section on "The Magical Elite" from the first sample, because it expresses exactly one of my biggest complaints about contemporary fantasy. The politics of the Equalists versus the Benders was also my chief source of uneasiness with the first season of "The Legend of Korra."

The part about villains trying to democratize superpowers also struck a chord with me (from the pilot episode of Agents of SHIELD, it looks like their villains may fall into a similar vein). I agree with the author that the villains' plans sound like fine goals to me - except Magneto's from the first X-Men movie. My understanding of the other villainous plans cited was that they were all opt-in, whereas Magneto planned to turn all of New York City into mutants by force. Would I like to have superhuman powers? Maybe - I can see pros and cons, even setting aside the social aspects. Would I like to have some prick come along and bestow superhuman powers upon me without my knowledge or consent? I don't think so.


And now for something completely different: I was intending to write a review of the Doctor Who/Next Generation crossover comic, Assimilation2 on the strength of the cracked out premise alone, but I finished reading the miniseries the other day and it was just so ... banal that I don't think I could keep myself awake through writing an article about it.
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at 17:05 on 18-10-2013, Alice
New to me, so thanks for the recommendation, Adrienne!
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at 09:47 on 18-10-2013, Adrienne
And now realizing that Chiusse is in fact a friend of Ferretbrain, or at least a friend of friends of Ferretbrain, so probably everyone already knows about her but me. Oh, well. :) I still think she's worth drawing attention to again!
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at 19:20 on 17-10-2013, Fin
maverick marsupial


Sounds like a great name for a cop show.
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at 20:56 on 16-10-2013, Sonia Mitchell
And now, some kangaroo news.
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at 10:24 on 15-10-2013, Arthur B
The South Park thing was especially cringeworthy because it's a show which has got really tired out referencing a thing that's got really tired out to explain a joke which itself is not just tired out, but got tired out early in the shows run, was retired for being tired out, was rekindled again for nostalgia and then got tired out all over again.
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