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 05:49 on 19-02-2012, Frank
oh. and thanks for the heads up, Ibmiller. I'm almost done with The Magicians and will gladly stop there.
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at 05:28 on 19-02-2012, Frank
It's neither a capitulation or an attack. It's just some unhealthy guy experiencing traits or a disorder of narcissistic personality (cluster B) and sharing his needy, grandiose, and empatheticless writings, or e-stink, to the world.

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at 05:04 on 19-02-2012, Arthur B
Well, I realised Black Library do better Dark Eldar stories and the rest is history.
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at 04:27 on 19-02-2012, Michal
What, the further adventures of the alien bodysnatching BDSM enthusiasts didn't entice you?
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at 04:05 on 19-02-2012, Arthur B
Make that a trilogy.

I found the first book of the sequel series in a charity shop, bought it, had it sat on my shelf for some months, and then sold it again because I couldn't bring myself to care. I begin to think his japery on his blog is the first even moderately attention-grabbing writing he's done for years - for all the wrong reasons.
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at 03:55 on 19-02-2012, Michal
Arthur, I think you're the only one here who's actually read a Bakker book cover to cover, and can therefore muster the will to care.

I haven't really followed the meltdown, so actually reading the link was...pretty bizarre. I'm kind of tickled by the thought of someone reading that without any context. Imagine if this was the first thing you ever read on Bakker's blog? "I'm e-stinky"? "I like the lay of your sausage, kid"?

The fuck?
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at 01:52 on 19-02-2012, Arthur B
Possibly I'm the only person here who's still paying attention to RSB's really embarrassing meltdown (I imagine even valse is bored by now), but hey.

He's posted two new blog posts since the last one which deal more or less exclusively with the subject and the issues arising from it - which makes it six posts in a row - but I wanted to bring everyone's attention to this charming story, because I cannot work out whether it's meant to be a capitulation or some sort of really oblique attack and I'm hoping the hivemind will help me work it out.
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at 23:04 on 18-02-2012, Michal
A fascinating article on fictional maps. Discussion of the neat-o map from the 1976 Russian edition of The Hobbit included.
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at 02:18 on 18-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
Trout is certainly an important source of omega-3 fatty acids and proteins.
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at 02:03 on 18-02-2012, Arthur B
It kind of looks like "trout".
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at 01:46 on 18-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
I have no idea what you might see in that line of letters. Whatsoever.
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at 01:34 on 18-02-2012, Arthur B
trwat

Hurr.
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at 01:08 on 18-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
It is a good idea though. It would most certainly be preferable to the current circumstances. I did train our dog to do the typing, but it could only ever type one letter at the time and each time I rewarded it with a trwat, it would drop the little pointer in its mouth and would have to scamper down to get it and up again to the letter input device for the computator. And its spelling, although estimable for a canine, was really quite awful.

But training a teenager resembles too much real work and would require communication either verbally or then in writing, the first of which is unpleasant and the latter a bit too time consuming for Facebook status updates, or for searching Youtube for videos of that cat who likes to be in boxes.
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at 23:02 on 17-02-2012, Shimmin
I suggest employing a second team (perhaps of teenagers, who I believe have special training) to transcribe your elegant handwritten script onto the difference engines. Not only does it avoid an unpleasant duty, but it provides valuable employment in these straitened times.

(A joke, of course. I cannot in seriousness endorse the use of tacky modern inventions like the computer, the pen, or the opposable thumb)
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at 19:30 on 17-02-2012, Janne Kirjasniemi
Well obviously everybody here is wrong on this issue. Everybody who really likes books or literature doesn't really touch a book that's been made with any modern technology, like movable type or technologies after that. This only true opinion of things also carries the benefit that you can truly be a member of a choice group and differentiate yourself from the common rabble who imagine they like reading.

Of course it makes it more difficult to read some more modern works, but I myself employ a team of monks to do the work of copying the text to a more acceptable form. Expensive, of course, but in some cases one really has to make an effort to maintain a touch of taste in one's milieu. Don't anyone bother to point the irony of me using as barbaric a method as a modern data computing contraption to point it out. We all have to make some sacrifices in this world.
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at 14:49 on 17-02-2012, James D
I didn't mean to imply everybody has the same experience that I do (admitting
that I did accidentally sit on my Nook and destroy it not long ago and it was
very traumatic), but my point was that an ebook is only the text without
anything else, so by definition they're appealing to somebody who likes the
reading part above collector of objects part.

Ouch! Sorry to hear about your poor Nook; that's exactly the kind of thing I'd worry about if I had one. Anyway I ought to mention I prefer physical books pretty much exclusively for practical reasons; most of the ones I buy are cheap used paperbacks and not worth a damn as objets d'art. I'm leery of that kind of collecting in general.

I'm sure one is as annoying as the other.

I'd say so.
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at 06:06 on 17-02-2012, valse de la lune
I encounter a lot of fetishistic "but paper is so magical" hand-wringing online, plus all the usual silly arguments like "e-readers won't survive a dunk in the bathtub." Because, of course, one dunks paper books in bathtubs constantly.

I've just now discovered Adam Roberts' reviews of Waste of Time, incidentally. Oh my. Jordan fans' reactions to that were nothing if not ridiculous.
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at 02:33 on 17-02-2012, Michal
It seems like he's writing a response to people who act like a preference for physical books is mature and sophisticated, while people who like ebooks are all subliterate members of the twitter generation.

Huh. So far, in actual day-to-day life, I've only encountered people who act like preference for ebooks is hip and modern, while people who like paper books are Luddites retarding the rate of Glorious Progress. (As discussed by Ursula K. le Guin)

I'm sure one is as annoying as the other.
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at 02:21 on 17-02-2012, Sister Magpie
I've heard that if you download the ebook of House of Leaves it actually increases the internal storage on your e-reader quite substantially.


LOL! Touche!

I dunno, I disagree with that. I find it easier to read a book that (realistically speaking) can't break or crash and is very unlikely to get stolen. I need another piece of electronic equipment to worry about like I need a hole in the head, so from that perspective it's easier to read a book for me.


I didn't mean to imply everybody has the same experience that I do (admitting that I did accidentally sit on my Nook and destroy it not long ago and it was very traumatic), but my point was that an ebook is only the text without anything else, so by definition they're appealing to somebody who likes the reading part above collector of objects part. So there's no reason being anti-e-book would put a person in the "loves to read more" side to which Dan referred.
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at 00:09 on 17-02-2012, James D
Yes, one of the ironic things about the whole book-lovers vs. ebooks is that one of the big advantages to e-books, even if you love books as objects, is they make it easier to actually read.

I dunno, I disagree with that. I find it easier to read a book that (realistically speaking) can't break or crash and is very unlikely to get stolen. I need another piece of electronic equipment to worry about like I need a hole in the head, so from that perspective it's easier to read a book for me. Anyway I don't finish books so frequently that finishing one and not having another available has ever been a problem for me. If I'm near the end of one and I go on a trip or something I take a second one. Bulkier, yeah, but unless we're talking science textbooks, space has never been at such a premium that I can't fit a second paperback into my luggage.

I've heard that if you download the ebook of House of Leaves it actually increases the internal storage on your e-reader quite substantially.

Wow, that means that pretentious crap might actually be good for something!
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at 21:58 on 16-02-2012, Arthur B
But that you can hold a lot of books in an e-reader, and it's always the same size, and if you've finished the one you're reading you can zap in a new one immediately.

I've heard that if you download the ebook of House of Leaves it actually increases the internal storage on your e-reader quite substantially.
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at 20:53 on 16-02-2012, Sister Magpie
There's nothing wrong with being interested in books as physical objects, any
more than there's anything wrong with being interested in swords or shoes or
hats, but a lot of people genuinely mistake a fetishisation of books for an
appreciation of the actual act of reading.

I think it's tangentially
related to my personal pet hate - people who want to "be writers" but don't seem
to actually want to write anything. A lot of people seem to spend a lot of time
"loving books" but have little interest in reading anything in any medium at
all.


Yes, one of the ironic things about the whole book-lovers vs. ebooks is that one of the big advantages to e-books, even if you love books as objects, is they make it easier to actually read. Not in terms of it being easier on the eyes, since plenty of people probably prefer reading on paper etc. But that you can hold a lot of books in an e-reader, and it's always the same size, and if you've finished the one you're reading you can zap in a new one immediately. Without having to later deal with finding shelf space for it.

There used to be a huge difference to me between carrying a big hardcover, thick book and a tiny paperback. Now everything's a nice manageable size. If I was only interested in displaying books as objects, of course, this would be counter-intuitive. What's the point of having the books if you can't see them? People rarely grab someone's reader to look at what they've got on it the way they browse the shelves at peoples' houses. Even on the subway you can't tell what the person's reading (I'm always nosy about that so I miss it--I had a lot of bonding experiences with people while I was reading Proust because when you've read him you always have to fistbump another fan.)
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at 18:43 on 16-02-2012, James D
The whole 'books vs. e-books' thing comes down to personal preference, that's it. I myself prefer physical books for a variety of reasons, but if someone feels more comfortable reading it on a Kindle, I'm not going to look down my nose at them. My girlfriend has a Nook and loves it. I think there's this reactionary paranoia among those who prefer physical books that publishers will stop printing them en masse; that's absurd. Has iTunes destroyed the CD market? These days the vast majority of CDs I want (even new ones) aren't legally available in digital format at all. The niche market for vinyl and even tapes is still thriving as well.

I mean, there are probably people out there who only read hardbacks and look down on people who read paperbacks for the same reason. I don't know why there's much point in paying attention to any of them. Or me!
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at 11:03 on 16-02-2012, Dan H

@Andy: Really? I honestly didn't get a shred of mischief off the article, but maybe that's just me.


I've not read the article, but from the section you quoted it sounds a lot like, well, the sort of thing I'd do. It seems like he's writing a response to people who act like a preference for physical books is mature and sophisticated, while people who like ebooks are all subliterate members of the twitter generation.
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