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 00:39 on 03-11-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
In the post-War economy it would have been a wasteful extravagance when the Washington DC Masonic Temple has a perfectly good sex dungeon.

That actually shows up in the comic too. Given how Truman is also a member of the financial Illuminati that rule the Earth (who include amongst their number a 500-pound Samoan, a luchadore, Emperor Palpatine, and a 2500-year-old devotee of Set), he probably figured he could have two.

One of the best things about this comic is that I don't have to make anything up to get across how nuts it is.
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at 00:08 on 03-11-2013, Arthur B
In the post-War economy it would have been a wasteful extravagance when the Washington DC Masonic Temple has a perfectly good sex dungeon.
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at 00:03 on 03-11-2013, Michal
...Harry Truman converting the Oval Office into a Masonic sex dungeon...


You mean this didn't actually happen?
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at 22:49 on 02-11-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I knew it had to happen: I finally managed to find a nutso alternate history story that didn't make me cringe.

It's Johnathan Hickman's current continuing comic series The Manhattan Projects, and it's a hell of a lot of fun. Part of the appeal is seeing what crazy new shit is going to go down, like, say, with Harry Truman converting the Oval Office into a Masonic sex dungeon, but it also continues Hickman's interest in the uncomfortable relationship scientific progress has with personal ambition and society as a whole.

It's also convinced me that Oppenheimer is the most terrifying man who ever lived.
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at 02:09 on 01-11-2013, Alice
Also, something funny for Adrienne: animals being jerks gif series (4th of 4, with links to the previous 3 parts). And I hope things are/feel better soon!
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at 02:04 on 01-11-2013, Alice
Re: Sleepy Hollow

Doesn't really have much to do with the original Washington Irving that I can see, but oh well.


I noticed this too, though I suppose Tim Burton's version didn't either (at least thematically), and I quite enjoyed that one as well. Though I do find it interesting that modern adaptations all seem to have (deliberately, one assumes) reversed the "there is nothing supernatural going on" of the original story. Then again, I suppose "Ichabod Crane's romantic rival scares him off by pretending to be a headless horseman" wouldn't make for a very interesting film/tv show/whatever.

As for the current adaptation, I enjoy it overall - love Abbie, love Jenny, love the diversity of the cast, love Ichabod's transference of hero-worship from General Washington to "Leftenant" Mills, very much enjoy the "Ichabod adapts to modernity" stuff...

But the level of research in the show seems to be at the level of "the writers have read the first paragraph of a few Wikipedia articles" (oh God, the Roanoke episode!), and there's been some pretty cringeworthy racial stuff (~evil gypsy witch~ in the second or third episode, faily representation of Native Americans the episode after that) which seems at odds with the casting/characterisation otherwise.

So I'm hoping those two things will improve over the course of the series, because I'd really like to wholeheartedly love the show, but as it is I'm not quite able to.
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at 00:02 on 01-11-2013, Robinson L
Adrienne: Oh, i love Tim Zahn! His stuff is usually good fluffy fun! Where's the story?

So do I, for similar reasons. I've been reading it in a collection of novellas and short stories called "Star Song and Other Stories." I just finished it about an hour ago, and I'm not actually too impressed by it - it was okay, but it didn't wow me.

(I actually met him once, too, at a con several years back. He's a very nice man.)

Cool. I have not met him (9 Worlds was only my second con ever), but I've heard/read several interviews of him, and he does sound like a very nice man.
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at 22:38 on 31-10-2013, Adrienne
Robinson L: Oh, i love Tim Zahn! His stuff is usually good fluffy fun! Where's the story?

(I actually met him once, too, at a con several years back. He's a very nice man.)
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at 22:30 on 31-10-2013, Bookwyrm
I hate the world today. Someone tell me something nice, or funny, or uplifting, please?

Well when I hate life, this video puts me in a good mood.

Also Happy Halloween everybody.
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at 21:23 on 31-10-2013, Janne Kirjasniemi
Talkin' bout cookie monster, this has always improved my mood. Because it is very nice.

This, on the other hand I'd push as uplifting. While the movie itself is superb, this scene has a full story in itself, ending with a really cathartic resolution(well, the scene, the clip goes a little too long).

And exploiting the same source there's this, which I guess is a bit preachy, but a good song nonetheless.
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at 20:30 on 31-10-2013, Robinson L
Oh, also, this being All Hallow's and everything, this is probably a good time to mention that I'm greatly enjoying Sleepy Hollow, in contrast to my sisters ... who are obsessing over it.

Basically, take your standard tough cop + amateur Odd Couple (a la Bones, Castle), throw them into a Buffy the Vampire-esque setting, add a Book of Revelation garnish, dial up the silly a notch, and give the whole thing a genuinely multi-racial cast, and viola. Oh, and the whole thing takes place practically within spitting distance of my home town.

Doesn't really have much to do with the original Washington Irving that I can see, but oh well.

Happy Hallows.
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at 20:00 on 31-10-2013, Robinson L
Ulllch, well, I tend to be pretty terrible at this sort of thing when I'm put on the spot, but, here goes.

I'm currently reading "The Play's the Thing" a short SF story by Timothy Zahn which has actually prompted me to laugh out loud.

In the first scene, the narrator is explaining how he got assigned to the entourage of the first alien ambassador to Earth, through what turns out to be a misunderstanding. When he finds out he sticks with it, though out of bloodimindedness (as his colleagues have been making snide remarks about his "relative usefulness").

Besides, the briefcase they'd handed me that first day had contained a presidential plea for my cooperation and about two bucketfuls of money, both of which I was far too patriotic to walk away from.


Later, the ambassador (which is humongous) ends up making a scene at a Broadway show, which sends the audience running for cover

With the ambassador's second below even the actors lost it, scurrying for the wings like they'd spotted a critic with an Uzi.
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at 19:49 on 31-10-2013, Melanie
I hate the world today. Someone tell me something nice, or funny, or uplifting, please?


What about "Cookie Monster Learns a Lesson from Tom Hiddleston"? Alternatively, the Sad Cat Diary.

Also, a cute comic about a kitten and halloween.
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at 17:20 on 31-10-2013, Adrienne
I hate the world today. Someone tell me something nice, or funny, or uplifting, please?
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at 20:45 on 30-10-2013, Arthur B
Not started it yet (going to dig into it tonight after I'm done watching In the Mouth of Madness), but I can believe a product of the Dear Esther crew feeling inert.
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at 19:06 on 30-10-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
So I played Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs, and I'm in a bind: I didn't like it, but I can't figure out why. I mean, it's wrapped in an atmosphere of industrial anxiety, and it evokes the anxiety of the late Victorian era, the struggles of modernity and modernism, and mankind's propensity for apocalyptic thought, stuff I'm normally really interested in...and yet it seems so inert. It has me baffled.
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at 23:21 on 28-10-2013, Jamie Johnston
So Pear took me to the Kitschies' Secret histories discussion panel event this evening and unless our ears were very much mistaken the moderator called On stranger 'there's just a little problem: the misogyny' tides a seminal work of feminist speculative fiction.

It was quite an interesting evening, though it would have been nice if the panellists had had a bit more time and been a bit more challenged by the moderator and each other. Tim Powers came across as slightly pedantic and very unreflective about the nature of his work and fiction in general, though he had some good anecdotes and one-liners. Lavie Tidhar was thoughtful and engaging but seemed to be holding himself back a bit. I wasn't quite sure what to make of Katie Griffin but she had some interesting things to say and said them in a fun way. Pear's going to do a fuller write-up for For Books' Sake soon.
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at 15:44 on 27-10-2013, Arthur B
Fun recommendation: Room 237, a documentary that isn't so much about The Shining as fan analysis of creative works in general through the framework of fan analysis of The Shining, ranging from the credible (a lot of the stuff about the weird geometry of the film feels correct to me, especially considering how obsessively attentive to detail Kubrick was and the labyrinth motif which overtly runs through it) to the wacky (apparently it's Kubrick confessing to his part in faking the Moon landings).
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at 06:40 on 26-10-2013, Kit
That sounds potentially really fascinating!


Just chiming in (having followed this conversation for a while) to say that Latour is indeed fascinating and that anyone even remotely interested in philosophy and sociology of science should give it a whirl. I also wrote my MA thesis on a subject in science studies which touched upon some of Latour's writings, and I've got to say that it's probably the best place to start when embarking on that line of inquiry. (Also, Robinson, "Science and Imperialism" sounds quite intriguing...)
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at 04:50 on 26-10-2013, Melanie
Latour draws heavily on Alfred North Whitehead to make the argument that "nature" as a category is juxtaposed in the Western philosophical tradition (and practically nowhere else) with culture - the one being the objective realm of the real, the other being the subjective realm of human interactions.


That sounds potentially really fascinating!

And of course saying that something is artificial is important at times, for many reasons. It is helpful to know [...] I think the problem is to use such words to mean something more than they are and then categorically use the term as a value judgment.


Yeah. It's not bad to have a set of words that distinguishes between "we did this" and "we didn't do this", I don't think. I mean, if you're trying to study... fffffff... I'm just going to say "natural processes"; you all know what I mean... then it might be important whether the thing you're looking at is the way it is because of human intervention or not. Like whether a hill is that shape because of erosion or because of earth-moving equipment, say.

for example the difference in skills in mathematics between men and women have been statistically noticed, but the difference is very small and can't really explain the difference


And, apparently, also isn't the same or even in the same direction in every country. /digression

Why the chess-phobia?
Because you combat him by checking your privilege.


...Ow. Ha!
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at 11:29 on 25-10-2013, Arthur B
I imagine him being a hetero white cismale with an aversion to chess.

Why the chess-phobia?
Because you combat him by checking your privilege.
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at 11:07 on 25-10-2013, Axiomatic
Percy Privilege is an awesome character and I want to read more about him.
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at 08:08 on 25-10-2013, Shim
our assessment of what is "natural" affects our assessment of what we would expect to observe in ideal situations. This in turn affects our assessment of whether structural discrimination exists.

My most/least favourite example here is classroom interaction. Teachers who firmly believe they are allocating time equally to girls and boys have been shown to spend disproportionate amounts on boys; and when taking special precautions to actually allocate equal time, both they and the pupils felt that they were spending all their time on the girls.
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