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 07:22 on 26-02-2012, Guy
Perhaps it's my scientific background, but as a general rule of thumb if your theory predicts that it is impossible for cars to exist, your theory *may need some revision*.


To be fair, there's something in the idea, it's just been overstated. Cars are much much more useful if there are petrol stations all over the place, rather than having to have petrol delivered to your house and then carrying a supply with you. And setting up a petrol station is only an economically viable proposition if there are lots of people driving around in cars who are going to stop off and buy petrol from you when they start running out. So in the early days of the car, there would be no petrol stations and just a few car-drivers, carrying their petrol with them. (And presumably having some delivered to their home in horse-drawn carts? Perhaps that never happened but it's a funny image.) But once a town or city reached a certain density of car-ownership, a petrol station might appear, which would make owning a car more attractive for the people who didn't own one, leading to more cars, more stations, &c &c. Similar network effects are helpful in explaining why virtually the whole world uses MS Windows rather than one of the alternatives, and why it's so difficult for any of the various "Facebook killers" to gain any traction against Facebook.
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at 06:15 on 26-02-2012, valse de la lune
They'd only demand to know what road intersections have to do anything. Imagine trying to introduce the concept of intersectionality to redditors in their calm state, let alone when they turn into frothing fanboys.
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at 20:50 on 25-02-2012, Melissa G.
@valse

That's when you point out intersectionality, which is basically the idea that "Just because you're not privileged in one area doesn't mean that you aren't privileged in others". Black men still have male privilege. White women still have white privilege. Etc.

Of course, the types that would call you out for class privilege probably aren't likely to listen to reason... :-/
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at 17:53 on 25-02-2012, valse de la lune
Bringing up class is a favorite derailment tactic--it's been thrown around at me fairly often, like so (trigger warning for comments surrounding that: everything and I do mean everything). Because yelling "you have CLASS privilege!" in answer to "you're a misogynistic and racist cock" makes for perfect logic. It's the one area in which straight cis white men can feel vaguely oppressed about--and sometimes not even that, since I doubt I have class privilege over most white western men--so they milk it for all it's worth. No, they aren't trolling. They honestly think it's some kind of GOTCHA I-WIN button.
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at 17:34 on 25-02-2012, Melissa G.
And as for being middle class makes you oppressed as a male ... let's not even go there.


I've been hanging out on reddit, which has a strong Mens Rights Activist group (as they seem to only exist on the internet) so that's sadly something I have been hearing a lot lately. They're always talking about how women oppress men through feminism and nonsense like that. One of them tried to argue with me that we live in a matriarchy. Urge to punch...rising....

I can only hope they're trolls, but I'm afraid they aren't.
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at 12:37 on 25-02-2012, Dan H
Sophia McDougall wrote quite a good response to that comment a little while ago.
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at 12:27 on 25-02-2012, Wardog
OMG, Steven Moffat :( :( :(

Like, I always thought he was a misogynistic prick anyway but...

I mean, *some* little girls play at being married because they're sort of taught that what's they're meant to aspire to not because it's coded in our genetic material to want to ENTRAP LITTLE BOYS INTO MARRIAGE.

And as for being middle class makes you oppressed as a male ... let's not even go there.
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at 11:59 on 25-02-2012, Dan H
The idea of Rowling trying her hand at edgy grimdark transfixes my face into a permanent death rictus.


I suspect that her Adult books won't be fantasy at all (she maintained, after all, that she had "no idea" the Potter books were fantasy, although as Terry Pratchett observed "you'd think the dragons and wizards might have tipped her off).

If she *does* write fantasy, it will almost certainly be a sub-Tolkein mess which mainstream critics will hail as original and groundbreaking because it will include things like Orcs As Noble Savages and Elves Who Are Sometimes Evil, and because the hero's love interest will die in the first book.
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at 10:09 on 25-02-2012, Melissa G.
Ugh, someone just linked me to this Steven Moffat quote. I always felt that he wrote women poorly, and now I know why. Just...ew to all of that.
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at 05:04 on 24-02-2012, valse de la lune
Oh, and some of you might enjoy Ekaterina Sedia's translation of hypothetical essays from Russian:

Ridicule of Victims of Violence as a Form of Demonization: Moaning Myrtle

The Founders of Hogwarts, or Men are Always in Charge: False Equality

Cho Chang: The Relations with Racial and Ethnic Minorities as a Casual Entertainment

Goblins: The Apotheosis of the British Antisemitic Tradition

If the Protagonist is Fed, Slavery is Awesome: House Elves

Only Stupid Girls Fight Slavery


This reminds me that there are actual people who believe Cho Chang is an example of excellent racial inclusion. Whenever I encounter one of them next I'll have to verbally kick them in the teeth.
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at 04:57 on 24-02-2012, valse de la lune
The idea of Rowling trying her hand at edgy grimdark transfixes my face into a permanent death rictus.
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at 03:11 on 24-02-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Personally, I like to think she came across my old screenplay and is working on a blaxsploitation reimagining/homage of the original franchise called Tyrese Potter and the Goblet of Funk.

Note: In my version, Voldemort is replaced by "Dat Honky", and he looks like Ned Beatty.

I am such a horrible person.
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at 22:02 on 23-02-2012, Arthur B
Guess who's back. I am yet to be convinced that this isn't going to end up being some form of edgy, grimdark Potter spinoff.
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at 22:00 on 23-02-2012, Dan H

Well yes, because your basic premise is nonsense; you don't need petrol stations to have cars, they just kept supplies at home and carried it with them... hardly impeccable, mates.


Perhaps it's my scientific background, but as a general rule of thumb if your theory predicts that it is impossible for cars to exist, your theory *may need some revision*.
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at 18:51 on 23-02-2012, Ibmiller
@Shimmin: True, but I think that Austen, unlike many "classic" novellists, provided everything you need to know in the work itself. I think Hale's implication was that you need to read tons of history and literary criticism to understand some classics, but that when you read Austen, she slips in the details of the entail and the mores surrounding Lydia's behavior so that it makes sense as you read it, rather than requiring extensive secondary reading to understand and respond. Not that extensive secondary reading doesn't enhance Austen (English major, here :-), but it's not required.
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at 08:17 on 23-02-2012, Shimmin
Just noticed this on a link off Michal's Dvorak page:
This, of course, is a catch-22 that we might suppose to be common in the economy. There will be no cars until there are gas stations there will be no gas stations until there are cars. Without some way out of this conundrum, joyriding can never become a favorite activity of teenagers. The logic of these economic traps and conundrums is impeccable as far as it goes, but we would do well to consider that these traps are sometimes escaped in the market.

Well yes, because your basic premise is nonsense; you don't need petrol stations to have cars, they just kept supplies at home and carried it with them... hardly impeccable, mates.
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at 08:14 on 23-02-2012, Shimmin
@Michal: it's quite a nice read. Dvorak is one of those things I vaguely meant to try sometime so I'd have more idea about it, but can't be bothered, especially with having Qwerty at work. Some of the key placements look distinctly suboptimal but it's hard to tell without see above.

@Kyra: yeah, the game thing was lovely.

@Ibmiller: ZOMG yes Princess Academy was quite a lot of fun and had some really nice ideas in. Although not entirely sure I agree with the quote there; Austen has plenty of historical context to worry about. Like in P&P, the root of their troubles being the inheritance rules; or the main problem with Lydia being running off unmarried rather than doing so at fifteen. I'm not sure those specifically related to "why the book was important" mind, but then I'm not sure what would.
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at 07:17 on 23-02-2012, Ibmiller
In counterpoint to Meg Cabot's brilliant idea that we create our own images of characters while reading (sorry, Meg, horse is dead), I just found a short but sweet piece by Shannon Hale (author of the lovely little piece Princess Academy which is definitely not the kind of overly pink processed YA fast food I was expecting (like, say, The Princess Diaries by Cabot), but instead well worth reading) - http://blog.figment.com/2012/02/06/shannon-hale-on-jane-austen/

The most relevant (and agree-with-by-me) insight was the following:

So many of the classics are historically dependent—a reader needs to decode language or understand complicated historical contexts in order to fully appreciate why the book was (and/or continues to be) important. Austen is only human dependent.

Also, Kyra, I nearly stopped breathing while laughing at the video game clip. Thrice.
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at 23:01 on 22-02-2012, Dan H
I’m not comparing a woman to a book, I’m comparing two different types of infatuation.

I can't believe he missed the opportunity to insist that, if we're annoyed by the analogy, then that implies that we know nothing about books, or women, or him.

(sorry, old comment, but years of Hollywood movies have left me unable to resist the old "same line in a different context" gambit).
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at 18:49 on 22-02-2012, Michal
More from Nick's Cafe Canadien: This post on the Dvorak keyboard is almost sublime.
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at 15:45 on 22-02-2012, Arthur B
In which Mark Charan Newton is self-critical: http://markcnewton.com/2012/02/21/things-i-got-wrong/

They should print this out and give it to authors in a little leaflet the first time they get published.
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at 14:52 on 22-02-2012, Cammalot
(I think Strange Horizons *did* favorably review his second book.)

Oh, and I can vouch for the Yankee-ism -- grading a class 'on a curve' means that instead of grading out of 100 percent, you grade out of whatever the best score in the class was. This will go into efffect sometimes if everyone in the class does lousily on an exam, even the consistently high scorers; it's assumed that something was off with the test. Which helps out the low scorers if the top grade was, like, 64 (very low, but not failing) or so. Everyone will then be graded out of 64 percent. Someone who screws up the curve gets a phenomenal grade, so everyone else has to suck up what they actually scored rather than getting any merciful adjustments. That said, I think I was in a class that got a test graded 'on a curve' about ONCE, in seventh grade (age 12 or thereabouts), maybe.
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at 13:06 on 22-02-2012, Wardog
Wow, he totally agrees with me about himself! That almost tempts me to read his second book. Almost.
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at 12:43 on 22-02-2012, Cammalot
In which Mark Charan Newton is self-critical: http://markcnewton.com/2012/02/21/things-i-got-wrong/
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