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 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...
at 16:03 on 27-04-2013, Shim
Ouch! Well, I'm glad to hear we could help. Audio is really nice for illness - I remember a delirious day drifting in and out of consciousness with the archives of You and Yours playing (this was in itself a pretty good sign of illness). It was incredibly trippy actually.

Yeah, The Woman in White is ace. Did you, out of interest, check out GOST?
at 13:36 on 26-04-2013, Alice
I noticed the lull (and guessed it was for the reasons mentioned) too, and used the downtime -- and being laid up for three weeks with the flu -- to work my way through the old TeXt Factor podcasts, which has been great fun.

It also led to my finally picking up The Woman in White (joint winner of the first series) and enjoying it immensely. I actually ended up reading along with the relevant bits of each episode so as to prevent being spoiled for either plot (the plot of a 150-year-old text, I know...) and/or discussion, and it was extremely entertaining, so thanks, Past!Ferretbrainers!
at 10:54 on 26-04-2013, Arthur B
For my part I have several multi-part reviews on the go but, of course, they can't go up until I've considered all the bits I want to consider in them.

I may have something going up at the weekend.
at 09:58 on 26-04-2013, Dan H
Basically what Shim said - we've been mega busy with offline stuff.

I should have a new article going up in a couple of days.
at 08:31 on 26-04-2013, Shim
I think that's less a case of things going on with the site, as things going on with the editors.

Dan, Kyra and Arthur are all tied up with offline stuff at the moment. Most of us are also doing at least one non-FB project to divide our attention. And of course, Alasdair has recently stepped back from articling.

Personally, I only write GOGathons these day, which means a gap between articles at least as long as it takes me to finish as much of the game as I can handle, i.e. anything from five minutes to, I'm starting to suspect, the rest of the year: as you may have spotted I'm playing The Witcher now. At the moment I'm trying to read through my epic book pile, which doesn't exactly lend itself to considered reviewing, but if anyone's desperately keen to see a load of one-paragraph reviews then hey, let me know and I'll think about mashing some together into a post. The RPG-related stuff I occasionally posted now goes on my blog instead. Any spare articling time I have tends to go on non-English stuff.

I recommend submitting something :)
at 08:30 on 26-04-2013, Robinson L
I haven't seen any announcements either. I figure people have just been busy.
at 01:12 on 26-04-2013, Cressida
Did I miss an announcement about anything going on with the site? There haven't been any new articles in almost six weeks...
at 17:38 on 25-04-2013, James D
Yeah, that one was kind of a dud. In fairness though, SMBC is definitely one of the better webcomics out there that's updated daily. I also appreciate how inclusive he is in terms of gender, race, sexuality, etc. For example there are plenty of comics where he'll just have a gay couple presented as a perfectly normal couple, without the comic revolving around their gayness.
at 12:20 on 25-04-2013, Arthur B
Exactly, to have a Dorian deal going on you need three things:

- Something getting progressively more corrupted.
- An unchanging facade.
- Something which reveals the changes taking place under the facade.

The comic presents only two things, a mind clinging to a blunt and mildly juvenile refusal to change and a face which does age. The facade itself is missing.
at 12:07 on 25-04-2013, Kit
Yeah, but isn't the whole point that the portrait represents Dorian's soul getting more and more corrupt, twisted and jaded? So that wouldn't work in any case. I guess...?
at 21:39 on 24-04-2013, Cammalot
I read that one as a reversal. Isn't it saying that the face is the portrait getting older, while the mind inside stays youthful?
at 18:49 on 22-04-2013, Adrienne
Alasdair: Is Jünger's name in the air lately or something? The first time i'd ever heard of him was a couple weeks ago, following a link to the blog of a crazy right-wing lawyer guy who apparently thinks Jünger is the bee's knees.
at 19:50 on 21-04-2013, Arthur B
Minor gripe about today's one: half the point of The Picture of Dorian Gray is that despite his body being fantastically well-preserved, his mind gets more and more jaded and decadent and callous as time goes by, so using "Dorian Gray" as an example of a character who retains their youthful outlook on life is ridiculous.