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 04:53 on 01-03-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
China Miéville's hopping back into YA again, and his upcoming book has me mildly curious, mostly due to my love of trains.

Hmm...this one appears in May, and K. J. Parker's new book and Ian Tregillis' long-delayed sequel to Bitter Seeds are appearing in June. Throw in Spec Ops: The Line and Prototype 2, and I've got a pretty busy month. Pricey too.
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at 01:26 on 01-03-2012, Adrienne
Oh, by the way, I highly recommend skipping this book: http://www.amazon.com/Gift-Patrick-OLeary/dp/0312864035 The titular Gift, as far as I can tell, is the incredible gift the main characters all have for blithely disregarding the idea of women as people.
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at 01:21 on 01-03-2012, Adrienne
Andy G, I don't actually know -- I do, myself, "cart around a lot of colonial privilege", and I've never been out of my own country except to western Europe. (I have never been to either of the USA's neighbors, even, oddly.)

And your point is well taken, about locals excluding the noob/expat, and I don't know what the answer to that issue is, either, because I am sure that happens in countries with colonial legacies as much as or more than it happens in Germany and the UK. I am definitely not comfortable saying that white people in Thailand are somehow morally obligated to suffer through some incredible amount of exclusion and hostility in order to have "meaningful" interactions with locals, but I'm also not okay with the idea of expats enclosing themselves in bubbles because they don't think of the locals as real people. I don't know what the answer is. :\
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at 01:14 on 01-03-2012, Adrienne
We were going for charmingly retro... :P


You have definitely succeeded!
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at 19:56 on 29-02-2012, Wardog
.the Playpen interface reminds me a great deal of my days on local BBSes, some ~twenty years ago. It's fascinatingly nostalgia-inducing.


We were going for charmingly retro... :P
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at 19:27 on 29-02-2012, Andy G
The danger, of course, is of using similar-sounding arguments against immigrants to countries like the UK or Germany - moaning about how they keep themselves to themselves and refuse to integrate. Nothing to do, of course, with local people making it hard for them to integrate.

I remember a Chinese friend from my halls said that when she tried to make friends with UK students on her course, she always ended up being edged out of conversations if she misunderstood just one thing or failed to pick on some cultural reference, and so in the end she mostly hung around with international students.
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at 19:12 on 29-02-2012, Andy G
With those qualifications, I can't argue with that, except to add that I guess you don't have to live in a hermetically sealed expat ghetto to fall into that trap: a certain kind of expat might get a thrill out of interacting with local people and culture in quite a superficial, spectatorial way.

Out of interest: do you think there is a *right* way to be an expat in a country where you cart around a lot of colonial privilege, or will that privilege inevitably mean that you will end up with a detached, tourist-y relation to the place?
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at 18:58 on 29-02-2012, valse de la lune
Just that there's a whole thing, it seems like, where (white) people go to other countries and then ... treat the natives like part of the scenery. The sense is that they think the other expats are the only "real people" in the country, and everyone else isn't so much human as a charming (or not charming) travel event, something for the scrapbook or the blog but not actually worth knowing. They don't actually learn to interact with anyone, you know? They just have their prejudices confirmed.


That is also what I was referring to. It's very nice and privilege-affirming, and encourages rampant casual racism.
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at 18:19 on 29-02-2012, Adrienne
...the Playpen interface reminds me a great deal of my days on local BBSes, some ~twenty years ago. It's fascinatingly nostalgia-inducing.
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at 17:20 on 29-02-2012, Adrienne
I was in no way implying that one shouldn't spend ANY time with other expats -- or even that one is forbidden from spending a significant amount of time with them. Just that there's a whole thing, it seems like, where (white) people go to other countries and then ... treat the natives like part of the scenery. The sense is that they think the other expats are the only "real people" in the country, and everyone else isn't so much human as a charming (or not charming) travel event, something for the scrapbook or the blog but not actually worth knowing. They don't actually learn to interact with anyone, you know? They just have their prejudices confirmed.

I've met people who have this approach to foreign travel, as well as encountering a zillion of them on the internets, and it always strikes me as really bizarre. That's all I was trying to get at, with my original statement.
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at 16:13 on 29-02-2012, Ibmiller
In other news, the insanely over-scrutinized potential pilot for the potential series which CBS is potentially putting together to rip off the BBC Sherlock (called Elementary) has caused much handwringing by idiots and much glee for me:

Lucy Liu has been cast as Watson.

Win!
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at 10:26 on 29-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
Rome and Britain. That's pretty impressive. By extension, perhaps Trojans were actually Celts, which means they settled most of Europe after Troy fell.
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at 10:22 on 29-02-2012, Arthur B
@Michal: I can't stand that sort of historical revisionism. It doesn't even stand up to the facts anyway, because as we all know Britain was first settled by Brutus of Troy immediately after Troy fell. (/geoffreyofmonmouth)
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at 09:48 on 29-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
Plus, when in a new place, other people who are also outsiders will share that feeling of outsiderliness at least and perhaps have more free time, whereas people who have established lives there have their friends and family already set up and becoming part of such circles might take time if you don't know anyone beforehand. I've only ever lived in Britain as a foreigner, but despite the similar cultural background and the open atmosphere of a university, it still took me several months before I became accustomed to my surroundings. During that time other foreign students were a great source of company. Although it might be that I was just shy or something.

To this day, the fact that this idea exists (and that some actually take it seriously) offends me.

Ha! That is excellent. I love how he is so very certain of his theory. If there is one sure sign to be suspicious of a weird paradigm shifting theory, unfounded certainty is a good contender.
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at 09:24 on 29-02-2012, valse de la lune
Is rampaging racism kind of a thing for white expats living anywhere, though? It seems to be the case for the ones in Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea and China, just to name a few.
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at 06:39 on 29-02-2012, Melissa G.
Yeah, when I lived in Japan, I ended up spending a lot of time with other expats. It's just refreshing to have familiarity and similar experiences to fall back on when you're surrounded by another culture/language all day. Seems to be a fairly similar phenomenon actually.
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at 02:36 on 29-02-2012, Adrienne
@Andy I concede the point, my implication that NO ONE should do that was hyperbolic. But as a theoretically-adventurous college student on a gap year or other similar sort of venture (which is what valse's commenter seems to indicate he is)? If one spends all one's time in the company of other expats I think it's safe to say one is Missing The Point.
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at 00:04 on 29-02-2012, Andy G
@adrienne Well surely depends why you're moving abroad surely? It doesn't seen at all incomprehensible to me that people would flock to others with same language and cultural background when in a foreign country.
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at 20:38 on 28-02-2012, Wardog
Clearly Wossname is following in Hill's footsteps...

Eeeeeeechooooooom!
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at 20:04 on 28-02-2012, Axiomatic
Is ChooOom! actually a direct quote from the text itself?

Holy WTF.
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at 17:21 on 28-02-2012, Adrienne
...yeah, i also don't understand why folks go to foreign countries and then spend all their time in the company of other expats. I mean, wtf? You might as well go hang out on a Hollywood set, at that point. Or in Chinatown.
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at 15:27 on 28-02-2012, valse de la lune
I was going to read it too! Then I decided to delete my pirated copy. I can't get over this:

ChooOom!
The bolt hit the Nuban square in the chest.


Chooooooom!

Yes, the Magical Nuban does, indeed, die. At the white protagonist's hand of course. SPOILERS TROLLOLOL.

She's all tuckered out, unused to the amazing sexual prowess of a fourteen year old boy. Who only in fantasy novels seem to have endless reserves for long lovemaking. Or Kvotheism, as the syndrome is known.


:')
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at 15:22 on 28-02-2012, Wardog
Also I hate the fact he's justifying himself by referencing A Clockwork Orange ( :( :( :( HE HAS NO RIGHT!
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