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 15:47 on 13-05-2013, Arthur B
I like how the cover they did for Carrie in absolutely no sense looks like the sort of covers people slap on the work of female horror/dark fantasy authors, presumably because if they actually provided a cover in that style it would, uh, look remarkably like the original one.

I mean, some of the other comparisons hit a lot closer to home but I'm pretty sure publishers aren't slapping that sort of cover on novels about troubled psychics who murder their entire home town in a temper tantrum.
at 14:56 on 12-05-2013, Dan H
Just found this: what covers of books by female authors would look like if they'd been written by a man and vice versa.

I'm torn about this, because I can't help feeling that it's unhelpful to conflate "perceived quality" with "relative level of girliness."

It's certainly true that books in genres that are specifically targeted at women have feminine covers but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, and I think it's a whole different kind of problematic to equate "girly" covers with "bad" or "low quality" books. A lot of the cover-flips basically take a novel by a male writer in a male-dominated genre, and flip to to make it look (nine times out of ten) like the cover of a romance novel. I think it's a bit problematic to argue that this makes it look like a "worse" book. Similarly, a couple seem to do the reverse, taking something that's clearly a romance, YA or chicklit cover and flipping it to make it look like a crime novel or a thriller. Heist Society, for example, is a YA novel about a teenage girl who is also an art thief, and at least part of it is set in a boarding school. Giving it a cover like something by Chuck Palahniuk doesn't actually help anybody.

If you look in the same subgenre then a lot of these differences disappear. For example:

The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold have perfectly ordinary fantasy novel covers. Some of her covers *are* a bit trashy, but a lot of fantasy covers in *general* are a bit trashy - see for example Summer Knight by Jim Butcher.

Similarly if you look at the works of Val MdDirmid, they just look like regular crime novels (as do the works of Patricia Cornwell).

Hell, even Laurell K Hamilton gets dark, edgy covers these days.

I don't like to point fingers, and I certainly don't want to get up on my minority warrior high horse here, but I can't help but feel that there's a fine line to walk between "books written by women are more likely to be perceived as poor quality" and "books which I perceive as poor quality are more likely to have been written by women."
at 11:01 on 12-05-2013, Axiomatic
That's a strange form of marginalization, though, because while books with "girly" covers don't get a lot of reviews in magazines, or critical recognition or stuff like that...they actually sell better.

I mean, I try not to be a sexist person, but I have to admit I suddenly know how Dracula feels about having a cross shoved in his face when I look at the girly covers of some of those books. I wouldn't pick them up at the library.

But from the publisher's point of view, as a guy who's mostly interested in science fiction and fantasy, I'm actually a very small group to cater to. And the despised* chick lit market is where the real money is.

*despised? Lol - only INSIDE the SF/F fandom will you find the mistaken impression that SF/F is somehow ranked ABOVE chick lit. To normal people who don't instantly devour every The Dragon's Throne Trilogy Volume One: The Sword of War that comes out, it's all the same ghetto, and any pretentions SF/F might have are laughed at.

AND it doesn't even sell that well.
at 18:00 on 11-05-2013, Robinson L
Just found this: what covers of books by female authors would look like if they'd been written by a man and vice versa. If you scroll the video, there's a gallery of nineteen books with their original covers and then the coverflipped version.

I also learned from a link in that article that J K Rowling has announced the upcoming publication of her own Harry Potter encyclopedia. Lovely.
at 21:52 on 10-05-2013, Fishing in the Mud
Unfortunately not, but that would be fun. It's just that he's ruffling his feathers at some (actually pretty mild) comment I made about Americans, which immediately made me think valse de la lune would have a field day with him.
at 21:28 on 10-05-2013, Adrienne
Fishing in the Mud: the posts in question aren't public by any chance, are they? We could probably arrange something. :)
at 20:44 on 10-05-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I've been reading valse de la lune's fantastically entertaining smackdowns of whiny liberal neckbeards, and today I end up interacting with someone on Facebook who's begging for that kind of spanking. I can't tell him what he needs to hear because he's related to someone I respect and I don't want to make things awkward, but I'm having fun imagining the screaming butthurt he would get from someone who doesn't feel obligated to be polite to him.
at 04:41 on 10-05-2013, Adrienne
I don't know where in England any of you England-residents are, or if you've got any inclination to take in strays, but there's a fellow over on the latest Dysfunctional Families thread on Making Light who signs himself "Codemonkey in NE England" and who sounds like he could really use some concrete offers of help/a place to crash for a few weeks. Just boosting the signal, a little.
at 16:19 on 09-05-2013, Fin
@Arthur Yes, just like that. D=

@Melanie That is exactly what bugs me most about those arguments.
at 20:15 on 08-05-2013, Alice
@ Cheriola: ow! *sympathetic face*
at 19:00 on 08-05-2013, Cheriola
Your PSA for the day: Bumblebees may be peaceful, but they CAN sting something wicked. And apparently they like salt? So check your outdoor shoes before you put them on again after stepping in for a minute...
at 16:37 on 08-05-2013, Melanie
Which is a tremendously privileged position to take, as well as a fairly incoherent one.

I also find it fairly hypocritical, since it seems like the people taking this position are generally doing so to defend their right to... say things. If they don't think speech is important or real, then why should they even care whether they're "allowed" to say certain things? They're simultaneously declaring that they think speech doesn't matter, and demonstrating that they actually think it does.
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!