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 01:26 on 20-04-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Bah, you kids with your xkcds and your Saturday morning breakfast cereals. You need to read a real webcomic, like Control-Alt-Delete. That thing is amazing. It started out bad and discovers new and exciting ways to be terrible every day.

In other, more interesting news, I finally read Storm of Steel a few weeks ago, and it got me interested enough in Ernst Jünger that I tracked down a rather illuminating study of his work during and between the wars. He was a very interesting man. He was a modernist, of course, but more attuned to the "conservative" metaphysical side of modernism, which is hardly surprising given his time and place. I've grown to think of him as an epiphantic modernist who tried act like a programmatic one, but wasn't suited for it. In the '20s he tried to put down some schemes as to what his ideal world would look like, but he was always at his best when he was just acting as a writer and working in allegory. He was always ruminating over man's relationship to technology and to war, the latter of which he always got attacked on. (Storm of Steel is all about his WWI experience, but the memoir views the war not with horror but with fascination, particularly for its extreme situations and transformative effects on the men who fought.) However, despite accusations and some occasional dalliances in the early '20s, Jünger was definitely not a Nazi. Hell, he was even tangentially involved in the July 20th plot.
permalink
at 22:51 on 19-04-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I haven't read SMBC for a while, but when I did it always had that self-righteous, resentfully sexist edge of the Nice Guy who finally found a girlfriend.
permalink
at 18:12 on 19-04-2013, Dan H
God I'm glad somebody linked that so I didn't have to. SMBC has been going either downhill, or up its own arse, or both for a while now.

Today's comic really does boil down to:

Interesting people are LIKE ME
Boring people are LIKE GIRLS WHO WOULDN'T HAVE SEX WITH ME IN HIGH SCHOOL
Intolerable people are LIKE GUYS WHO PICKED ON ME IN HIGH SCHOOL

I also wish he'd quit dumping on economists, given that he knows *precisely jack shit* about economics.
permalink
at 17:06 on 19-04-2013, Arthur B
I know we usually boo XKCD here but I want to boo today's SMBC.

Grounds for booing:
- Assumption that talking about ideas is inherently interesting: [CITATION NEEDED], nothing's more boring than someone who drones on and on about his pet theory.
- Assumption that talking about people is boring. This would imply that people themselves are an inherently boring topic. [CITATION NEEDED] again - I think people are pretty enthralling myself - though I can see how the concept appeals to a guy whose webcomic career is based on a series in which there are no actual characters whatsoever.
- Assumption that any discussion of what you drank last night is intolerable. [CITATION NEEDED]. Maybe you had a nice wine which you'd like to recommend! Maybe you had a well-aged port which had an interesting story behind it! Who's to say that alcohol is the exclusive province of alcoholics?
permalink
at 01:18 on 19-04-2013, Melanie
That was amazing.
permalink
at 12:52 on 18-04-2013, Axiomatic
Ladies and gentlemen, the best game trailer ever.

It's funny and informative and shows you actual gameplay, which is pretty much unheard of in game trailers.
permalink
at 14:55 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
Sorry, something wasn't working right and my post got posted 5 times. The delete function wasn't reachable the first 2 times I tried, either (couldn't find the URL). But it's probably just my little netbook that's slow.
permalink
at 14:47 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
Ack, sorry for spoiling, then.

And, no, you're probably getting Agron mixed up with Auctus, who was Barca's first lover in the prequel and whom Crixus was forced to kill in an Arena match. Agron was one of the Germanic brothers who came in with the new group of trainee gladiators in the middle of the first season, right after the storyline that got Barca, his boyfriend Pietros and that nasty brute who abused the poor boy killed. Agron is the elder brother, the one who couldn't resist checking out his neighbor's junk when they were told to strip for Illythia. He gets a boyfriend named Nasir in season 2 and their love life and character development becomes a major storyline.
permalink
at 10:38 on 15-04-2013, Arthur B
Irreverent tangent: the Spartacus board game is actually awesome, I played it with Dan and Kyra and Shimmin and we got ridiculously into it.

It ended, naturally, with a fight to the death between me and Dan. (Dan won but my death was a glorious one.)
permalink
at 09:53 on 15-04-2013, Dan H
I'm really confused. Didn't Agron die in the prequel?

Kyra and I are way behind on Spartacus, partially because we decided to watch it in chronological order, which meant rewatching the first series again after the prequel.
permalink
at 05:40 on 15-04-2013, Cheriola
I just watched the series finale of Spartacus. And I'm still weeping. It's was... so perfect. Well, okay, there were some small niggles - I would have appreciated if Naevia's death would have been more glorious, and Saxa's new girlfriend needed more screentime, and Sybil needed more personality... But it was beautiful as a whole. And they actually managed to give a historical tragedy a happy ending of sorts, in a meta way:
http://ozbrat.tumblr.com/post/47855724004/reminder-that-a-show-about-gladiators-and-battle
http://aeternium.tumblr.com/post/47868907748/okay-so-by-now-weve-all-sufficiently-shit

Mo Ryan has a good write-up about what made the show special here: (content warning for ableist language)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/12/spartacus-finale-steven-deknight_n_3071995.html


(Though at the same time, I'm a bit pissed off that STARZ' new show "DaVinci's Demons" seems intent on straightening the historical gay genius out, or at most make him a ladies man with some token nods to bisexuality. *sigh* I guess we'll have to wait till DeKnight's new sci-fi project "Incursion" gets green-lighted to get a decent queer-inclusive genre show again.)
permalink
at 18:59 on 14-04-2013, Arthur B
Wait, wasn't that what people said the original game was about too with the whole
Would You Kindly?
thing?
permalink
at 18:42 on 14-04-2013, Dan H
Still on the subject of BS:I, can everybody please take a drink for this article which insists that the game is really about *the nature of video game storytelling itself*.

Because that's an original thing for a video game to be about.
permalink
at 17:38 on 14-04-2013, Ibmiller
Ah, I sees. Hmmms. Thanks for the enlightenment!
permalink
at 04:10 on 14-04-2013, Fin
Interesting article on Bioshock Infinite.

@Arthur: That site is amazing.
permalink
at 16:58 on 13-04-2013, Arthur B
Bettermyths.com is a website
(hence the dotcom)
which is run by a dude who writes in an idiosyncratic style
(sort of establishing a conversational tone there)
and he retells mythology in this style
making it funny
because if there's one thing that's funny
it's taking something which is usually presented as SERIOUS BUSINESS
and being flippant about it
obviously care's got to be taken about cultural appropriation there
(though to be fair to him the dude takes being called out in a gentlemanly way
and is generally up for constructive dialogue with critics)
but in the case of the silmarillion it's extra funny
because the silmarillion is absurdly wordy and overwritten
almost as if
it's what a language professor did
in his alone time
instead of masturbation
permalink
at 05:56 on 13-04-2013, Ibmiller
Er...I can't figure out what Bettermyth is? Help the stupid one?
permalink
at 22:08 on 10-04-2013, Adrienne
Dan, what you're talking about is actually a semi-well-known idea in political theory, called the Overton window.
permalink
at 13:03 on 10-04-2013, Arthur B
Yep, and to be fair for the most part that isn't the form it's taking - Ed Milliband claims he's going to be highlighting to MPs where Thatcherism went wrong, whether or not he has the balls to actually do this at the special session of Parliament they've convened for the political eulogy remains to be seen but at least some of his MPs are making a point of boycotting the session.

I know the conversation's been concentrating more on the celebrations but that's because the celebrations are deeply, deeply problematic.

Steve Bell's having fun though.
permalink
at 12:58 on 10-04-2013, Andy G
(Not that Thatcher-hate *necessarily* has to take the form of celebration)
permalink
at 12:54 on 10-04-2013, Andy G
Her death is obviously only of symbolic rather than practical importance by this stage, but I think that much of the Thatcher-hate has involved explicit acknowledgement of her ongoing legacy and has attempted to channel anger against it. At the very least, it's a way of rejecting the attempt by supporters of ongoing Thatcherite policies to marshal Thatcher-love in support of their cause.
permalink
at 08:32 on 10-04-2013, Shimmin
I'm from the North, and I don't think I met anyone who approved of Thatcher until I went to Uni. It's not even a mining area. The effects of that time are still very obvious everywhere I grew up, though some things have improved, and the continuing political influence of ideas from that period are still baffling slash depressing slash enraging. Of course, not all of the problems were down to Thatcherism, it was a complicated period.

But that was over twenty years ago, and whatever contempt I have for her policies, and however much I wish she'd never got into power, I don't see anything to celebrate in her death (let alone she's got friends and family mourning her, and having to deal with that). The time for that was twenty-two years ago when she lost power; or if we ever manage to shake off all those terrible ideas. Given they're privatising the NHS and leaving the regions to rot again, I am not exactly hopeful. It strikes me that the Thatcher-hate just distracts from the ongoing repeat performance.
permalink
at 08:05 on 10-04-2013, Arthur B
Reagan was treated cultishly by Republicans even before he died, though, which is kind of my point: I don't think his death changed anyone's mind about him, I don't think Thatcher's death is going to change anyone's mind about her.
permalink