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 23:11 on 01-05-2012, James D
I'm also fascinated by the fact that two men can both go to Vietnam and come back to be SF authors, but one becomes David Drake and the other becomes Joe Haldeman.

Well it's not like everyone who took part in the Vietnam war experienced the same events. David Drake was an enlisted interrogator, a non-combat role, while Joe Haldeman was a combat engineer (and was wounded in combat, too). It's not surprising their subsequent views on war in general were much different as well.
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at 22:38 on 01-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
And now, paraphrased wisdom from a SomethingAwful game subforum thread:

"Keep in mind that video game writers fall somewhere between comic book writers and Markov chain generators in terms of literary ability."
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at 22:36 on 01-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Although I'm sure that Rand's experiences during the Russian civil war were very influential to her outlook.

I'm always interested in the ways people can have wildly different reactions to the same events, so I was piqued when I was listening to an old podcast (I think it was this one) and learned that one of Ayn's sisters became a pretty solid supporter of the CPSU, and when Ayn tried to bring the family over to America in the 1930s, the sister came over once, got in a huge fight with Ayn over politics, then went back to the USSR and stayed there.

I'm also fascinated by the fact that two men can both go to Vietnam and come back to be SF authors, but one becomes David Drake and the other becomes Joe Haldeman.
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at 21:21 on 01-05-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
I think the most annoying thing people say when the topic of Ms. Rand comes up is: "She lived in Russia for a while; she SAW the evils of collectivism!" As if no one else lived in a communist country, and if they did, they'd all end up writing Atlas Shrugged.

An added level of annoyance is the fact that people seem to be utterly ignorant of the variance between movements which are all considered to be on the left. Heck, the bolsheviks gained supremacy in russia from the mensheviks and other moderates at least partly through a fluke and they detested the social democratic movement, actively trying to destroy it globally. Although I'm sure that Rand's experiences during the Russian civil war were very influential to her outlook.

But this sort of thinking exists elsewhere as well. In the nordic countries there are many people on the right who actually share that sentiment, when you'd think that people living there would actually have direct proof that socialism does seem to have good results as well.
This is the best toy ever.

Whoa, the dude had that thing pointing at himself there for a second. Although I can see the thousands of practical uses for the thingamajig.
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at 19:22 on 01-05-2012, Wardog
Well, I know what to get you for your next birthday...
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at 16:32 on 01-05-2012, James D
Yes, my girlfriend was born in Yugoslavia (back when it existed) and things are just so great there now, thanks to capitalism and the tried-and-true one-two punch of US bombs followed by US industry.
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at 16:19 on 01-05-2012, Michal
I think the most annoying thing people say when the topic of Ms. Rand comes up is: "She lived in Russia for a while; she SAW the evils of collectivism!" As if no one else lived in a communist country, and if they did, they'd all end up writing Atlas Shrugged.

My grandparents lived in a formerly communist country. So did my parents. Both grandpas spit on Lech Walesa and wish the socialist government was back in power because life for anyone outside the upper class in Poland now sucks. I'm not much of a proponent of Marxism but it seems many in North America think life is now all roses and kittens in Eastern Europe right now for some reason. The truth is that life hasn't improved all that much for the majority, and a good many are getting misty-eyed for large-scale oppression in exchange for having enough to eat on a daily basis.
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at 14:36 on 01-05-2012, James D
Today's XKCD is one of the ones where the comic itself would be fine but the alt-text profoundly irritates me.

In the US there's this really irritating and really pervasive attitude, mostly among the middle (and probably upper) class, that if you're having trouble it's necessarily your fault somehow. Can't afford to feed your family? Should've gotten a better job. Got laid off? Should've worked harder. Can't find another job? You just need to try harder, and/or need to have gotten a better education in the first place. Health problems bankrupting you because of no insurance? Should've gotten a job that offered health insurance, or been better about saving up. The list goes on like that about everything, and is of course written for the most part by comfortable white people.

Then when you bring up how European countries have much better social safety nets, and many of those countries have a higher standard of living as well, Americans like to claim that Europeans are just taxed to death and their countries are filled with moochers and welfare cheats and that their health care is stuck in the middle ages.
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at 04:10 on 01-05-2012, Ibmiller
Man, I want the rabbit to get a Kickstarter. But I didn't want to encourage Amazon's search refinery, so I didn't click on it. Why in the world would they be selling that, anyway?

Arthur, I think your increments are too even and full of nice round zeros. I want some $5 options. And the occasional hidden dollar (the .99). Maybe choice of liquids or solids?
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at 22:48 on 30-04-2012, Arthur B
There's only one thing for it: toilet seat Kickstarter.

$10 and you get a photo of the toilet seat we buy.

$100 and you get a photo accompanied by a detailed review of the toilet seat.

$1000 and you get to hear a super-exclusive podcast of each member of the Ferretbrain team test-driving the toilet seat.

$10000 and it is the same as the above only this time there's solids.

$100000 you get to visit Ferret HQ and try it out yourself.

$1000000 and I will carve your name into my skull and leave burned offerings on your doorstep.

Kickstarters are fun!
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at 22:36 on 30-04-2012, Shim
Not to mention 3B Scientific W43014 Testicle Self Exam Form and uranium ore. But seriously, ferrets, the future is in reports on toilet seat (wood) economics, have you seen how much they go for? We should think seriously about this opportunity.
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at 22:27 on 30-04-2012, Dan H
And also, white facepaint, and a report on the outlook for wooden toilet seats in China, 2009-2014.
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at 22:25 on 30-04-2012, Dan H
Even more confusing, people who viewed that product also viewed a fresh whole rabbit.
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at 22:14 on 30-04-2012, Shim
Sometimes Amazon is win.
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at 22:07 on 30-04-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
Rand would say so. BECAUSE A IS A DAMMIT.

And if the argument is not getting along so nicely, it must be liberating to just write fiction and use that as straight proof for the argument.
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at 21:38 on 30-04-2012, Arthur B
I haven't really studied Rand that much, but are the conclusions inevitable from the axioms?

Rand would say so. BECAUSE A IS A DAMMIT.
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at 21:16 on 30-04-2012, Ibmiller
Rand's an interesting subject for me, since I was briefly a libertarian, and now have a weird reaction to the philsophy comprised of extreme bitterness and a lot of still shared values. So I watch the films with a combination of "okay, I see why I used to/still kinda believe that" and "this is hilariously badly done" and "oooh, pretty trainwrecks."

And I think it's a natural tendency to paint your opponents as not just intellectually but morally wrong - but I think Rand is really kind of vicious about it. Maybe I just have been fortunate in not reading a lot of polemical stuff.
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at 20:23 on 30-04-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
I would imagine many people with a libertarian bend might casually say something similar and of course in western discussion, some libertarian and neo-liberal connotations on words and concepts have sneakily gained supremacy. So government and public officials are always ineffective and too bureaucratic or even corrupt and government agencies and efforts too. All the other people(poor or those dependant on the state for example) are in essence moochers and everything good in the world is caused by individualistic and heroic entrepreneurs. Now I'm trying to be brief here, so I'll leave it at that, but if one accepts this discourse in the sort of stereotypical libertarist way, it is probably easier to accept Rand's "criticism" of government or the public sphere even if one does not follow it through to the idea that altruism is actually the cause of evil, not the solution to it. Or however it played out, I don't remember much of it.

But the premise of someone agreeing with Rand's axioms but not the conclusions she draws from them seems bizarre to me (not least because she tends to select the axioms which serve her conclusions best).

I don't know how this happens, but it does seem quite prevalent in nature, in similar situations. I haven't really studied Rand that much, but are the conclusions inevitable from the axioms? It might just be that Randy has not reached the full clarity of the objectivist vision and thus his vision is distorted by his wrong ideas about the world.
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at 20:00 on 30-04-2012, Robinson L
Ibmiller: she was incredibly dishonest, at least in AS, by showing every single character who disagreed with even the smallest aspect of her philosophy as not only being wrong, but being evil (mustache twirling evil).

Well, in fairness to Rand, she's hardly the first or the last writer guilty of that when pushing her political agenda.

My position on the movies is about equivalent to my position on the book: I'm curious to see how it plays out, and how ridiculous it actually gets ... but not all that curious.
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at 19:05 on 30-04-2012, Arthur B
Whoa, I don't think I've ever seen her accused of that before.

I meant, of course, hyper-capitalist.
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at 18:59 on 30-04-2012, Ibmiller
Interesting. I actually read the first 300 pages of Atlas Shrugged, and then skimmed the last 1000 pages. Seriously, the speeches really detract from the weird awesome mystery/bizzare rape fantasy thing going on in the book.

And picking and choosing her points and opponents was a really bothersome thing - she was incredibly dishonest, at least in AS, by showing every single character who disagreed with even the smallest aspect of her philosophy as not only being wrong, but being evil (mustache twirling evil).

That said, I'm still looking forward to the hilarity of the second film.
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at 18:06 on 30-04-2012, Robinson L
Arthur: If you don't consider Rand a credible philosopher and just consider her a nasty anti-capitalist

Whoa, I don't think I've ever seen her accused of that before.
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at 16:17 on 30-04-2012, Arthur B
Oh, that's perfectly true, it wouldn't be a foolish thing to say about someone who takes good axioms and comes up with rubbish conclusions. But the premise of someone agreeing with Rand's axioms but not the conclusions she draws from them seems bizarre to me (not least because she tends to select the axioms which serve her conclusions best).
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