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 19:21 on 02-05-2012, Wardog
Why do you guys keep reading XKCD anyway? Even if it's out of masochism at this point, there's far better thrills to be had elsewhere.

I have often wondered this (from the perspective of someone who has never read XKCD) .... is it the pleasure of pissing on a fallen idol?
permalink
at 19:03 on 02-05-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Why do you guys keep reading XKCD anyway? Even if it's out of masochism at this point, there's far better thrills to be had elsewhere.

Plus, it's factually wrong. I don't have to do taxes. Probably a high proportion of the world population don't have to do taxes. And plenty of people don't have to earn a living neither.

I hate you so much right now. :) Besides, you don't need algebra for taxes. At least in Canada, all you need is basic arithmetic and an understanding of how percentages work. And a bunch of slips of paper. And the ability to stomach the whole arbitrary nature of how your final bill is calculated.

I do wonder sometimes if it's a source of frustation for Randy that despite the fact he clearly puts a very high value on scientific and technical pursuits, his main impact on the planet is a goofy stick figure webcomic.

Maybe he thinks lives without algebra are sad, blighted things because he craves the algebra his own life isn't giving him.

If that's the case, the dude should quit sneering at the liberal arts majors and take himself an art class. Study some Greco-Roman classicism, learn about perspective, and he'll get all the math he wants, and we might get the first Davidian neo-classicist web cartoonist in the world, so win-win.

Also, people complain about foreign languages too and music and everything, if someone says you have to do it. Some places have compulsory foreign(or second domestic) languages and kids moan about them all the time.

*grimly remembers stumbling through about a decade of Core French classes to little success, continues meditating on folly of choosing to live in a city where a fair chunk of the civil service jobs require bilingualism*
permalink
at 18:22 on 02-05-2012, James D
SMBC is far superior to XKCD anyway.
permalink
at 18:03 on 02-05-2012, Ibmiller
Ah, music. Funny how sports have about as little value to your later professional life, but people don't complain about them. Except for those stupid nerds. But we showed them in high school, so their opinion doesn't matter.
permalink
at 16:53 on 02-05-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
Also, people complain about foreign languages too and music and everything, if someone says you have to do it. Some places have compulsory foreign(or second domestic) languages and kids moan about them all the time.
permalink
at 16:12 on 02-05-2012, Arthur B
I do wonder sometimes if it's a source of frustation for Randy that despite the fact he clearly puts a very high value on scientific and technical pursuits, his main impact on the planet is a goofy stick figure webcomic.

Maybe he thinks lives without algebra are sad, blighted things because he craves the algebra his own life isn't giving him.
permalink
at 16:06 on 02-05-2012, Shim
Plus, it's factually wrong. I don't have to do taxes. Probably a high proportion of the world population don't have to do taxes. And plenty of people don't have to earn a living neither.
permalink
at 14:48 on 02-05-2012, James D
I love the alt text too. Yeah man, if you're not doing algebra in your spare time, you're totally missing out on one of the great joys in life.
permalink
at 14:35 on 02-05-2012, Dan H
Moving on from Rand, today's XKCD is equally shitty.

Let me count the ways.

One, it is not a joke.

Two, it is another of his awful bits of observational pseudocomedy.

Three, it is a textbook example of Affirming the Consequent (the fact that all interesting things are optional does not imply that all optional things are interesting).

To answer Randy's question, the reason people make a big deal out of never having used the math they learned in school is that when they asked, in school, why they had to study all this math, people said "because you will need to use it in your everyday life."

Suggesting that people are wrong to complain that math is useless on the basis that other things are also useless is like suggesting that it is wrong to complain that your blueberry muffin does not contain any blueberries, on the basis that many other things also do not contain blueberries.
permalink
at 11:45 on 02-05-2012, Arthur B
Texts From Edward. Like Texts From Bennett except with less HUSTLA DA RABBIT and more sparklypire.
permalink
at 09:48 on 02-05-2012, Arthur B
Ah, I wasn't paying attention to the words because I was concentrating on the dakka. :)
permalink
at 09:34 on 02-05-2012, Shim
@Arthur: the beginning of the quadcopter video.
permalink
at 08:24 on 02-05-2012, Arthur B
@Adrienne: I don't follow - beginning of what?
permalink
at 08:03 on 02-05-2012, Adrienne
Arthur B: I love this line, toward the beginning: "It doesn't even have a technical name yet, so for now we're just going to call it Charlene." :)
permalink
at 23:55 on 01-05-2012, Ibmiller
Ouch. I wish I had evidence about video game writers to the contrary, but every time I try to think of one, Drew Karpyshan shows up in my head.

Though I think some comic book writers are actually really good (unless we're only talking mainstream, big two superhero fare, though even some of them are fairly decent).
permalink
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.
permalink
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."
permalink
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.
permalink
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.
permalink
at 19:22 on 01-05-2012, Wardog
Well, I know what to get you for your next birthday...
permalink
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.
permalink
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.
permalink
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.
permalink