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 00:03 on 01-02-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
On the subject of Nicolas Cage, he answered some questions from random internet people for Empire magazine recently.

And in some older news, he's had some incidents with home invasion/Fudgesicles in the past, and has been spreading knowledge to foreign lands.
at 23:15 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
I'm probably the last person in the world to see it, but I thought Nic Cage's Agent was hilarious. I love it mainly because of the spoof movie posters in the background.
at 22:02 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
I was sceptical about reading on them at first too, but it actually surprised me how little reading on my Kindle feels like reading on a screen. There's no glare or anything because that's not how e-ink works, the default Kindle font is optimised for being easy on the eye, etc.

Re: ownership - there are ebook stores which sell stuff DRM-free and usable on most e-readers (including Kindles). Hell, more or less the entirety of Project Gutenberg is available in ePub and Mobi formats, so purchase of 1 e-reader = all the out of copyright classics you could possibly want, readable in the nicest format you're going to get out of Gutenberg short of printing stuff out and binding it yourself.
at 21:50 on 31-01-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
You know, I actually don't like e-readers that much either, AND for a number of excellent reasons!

1. I'm poor.

2. A sizable chunk of my daily life revolves around staring at a screen for hours already. It's nice to have a break from that.

3. I don't tend to treat electronic devices very well. If I drop a book, sit on it, kneel on it, or drop it in the tub, it's still fine. If I do that to an e-reader, I'm gonna be out another hundred bucks (most likely because I will, as usual, have destroyed it after the warranty has run out).

4. Most everything I read is either already available at a bookstore (used or otherwise) or will probably never be converted to an electronic format.

5. I have the irrational believe that digital information is somehow inferior, or even "false", when compared with material reality. If I bought it and hold it in my hand, it's mine. If I download it, it may be "mine" according to the law, but it's still just a whorl of magnetic particles or electrical impulses which I can never truly claim, because they are wholly dependent on outside agencies, namely a power grid and the goodwill of the company I bought it from, to become my possessions. (My concept of ownership consists mostly of me huddled over a giant pile of my stuff, hissing at everyone who is not within swiping distance.)

6. I don't see why they needed to be invented. We already have laptops; isn't that good enough? (Note: In my ideal world, there are also no cell phones, magnetic tape is the preferred storage medium, and there are only twenty-four countries.)
at 21:30 on 31-01-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I can almost sympathize with the sentiments regarding poseurs (I mean, shit, we've all felt it some time or another, right?) but goddamn.

And why is this posted on the Internet? This is the sort of think you scrawl in your Grade 10 English book in a foul mood, forget for a few years, then discover while you're cleaning your room out as you prepare to move out, reread, and wince at how much of a dick you were.
at 19:53 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
Because nothing any human being can experience is worse than not getting laid in high school.

Indeed. Furthermore, getting laid in high school gives you immunity to being a geek. People who are popular have the option of enjoying interests that are not geeky and getting laid on Friday night, and being popular and getting laid are the goals of all rational actors, consequently the only geeks are people who didn't have any other choice. It's essentially like being disabled, and claiming to be a geek appropriates that. It's not that the author of the comic ever really enjoyed being a geek, they were born this way and it's their burden to carry through life.
at 19:50 on 31-01-2012, Dan H

Yeah, the fact that it's a dude telling a woman why she can't be a "real" geek pretty much killed any chance I ever had of identifying or agreeing with that bit of virtual rag.

Girls can't be real geeks, because girls don't understand what it's like to be made to feel like an outsider. Because nothing any human being can experience is worse than not getting laid in high school.
at 19:46 on 31-01-2012, Furare
Yeah, the fact that it's a dude telling a woman why she can't be a "real" geek pretty much killed any chance I ever had of identifying or agreeing with that bit of virtual rag.

That and the fact that I spent about a minute trying to clean a bit of dirt off my laptop screen only to realise it was on the "paper".
at 19:37 on 31-01-2012, Dan H

Oh, those lonely Friday nights of... doing shit I was interested in and enjoyed. What torture! What torment!

But doing things you enjoyed and were interested in didn't make you popular! Nobody has ever suffered worse!
at 19:31 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
I shall summarise:

Person Who Is A Lady: I am a member of this clubhouse; for instance, I possess far more copies of a particular comic than any "casual" fan would ever be expected to own (if they own individual copies at all rather than just buying trade paperbacks), which is something a member of this clubhouse might do.

Person Who Is An Asshole: You are not allowed into my clubhouse.

PWIAA: Nobody is allowed into my clubhouse unless they have already been in my clubhouse as long as I have.

PWIAA: That you desire entry to my clubhouse suggests that you have no personality or soul of your own.

PWIAA: You are only doing this to give erections to people who are assholes. Good job I am not an asshole.

PWIAA: To get back on the subject, only people who were bullied in school and stayed in on Friday night get to be in my clubhouse, because popularity in school defines your interests and hobbies. If I had been popular in school there is no way in hell I would be in this clubhouse.

PWIAA: In conclusion, you are not allowed in my clubhouse because my clubhouse is now popular and you fakey popular people are trying to get inside because of that, whereas in the past it was unpopular and was full of unpopular people. The clubhouse became popular where once it was unpopular because of the suffering of the unpopular people inside it, not because it was adopted by people who are popular.

PWIAA: Anyone who disagrees with my flawless definition of what my clubhouse is was never in my clubhouse in the first place and therefore they cannot define it.

PWIAL: Setup for boob joke.

PWIAA: Boob joke.
at 19:10 on 31-01-2012, valse de la lune
Even xkcd isn't that oblivious, I don't think. Didn't read the whole thing by the way, very tl;dr.
at 19:04 on 31-01-2012, Michal
I'm surprised that wasn't taken from xkcd.
at 18:59 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
Oh, those lonely Friday nights of... doing shit I was interested in and enjoyed. What torture! What torment!
at 18:40 on 31-01-2012, Dan H
But geeks are so margainalised and oppressed! That's why they "deserve" the "success" they are "suddenly" getting.
at 17:46 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
I found a new shibboleth. Anyone who seriously agrees with this comic is almost guaranteed to be part of the reason geek culture is appalling.
at 16:17 on 31-01-2012, Andy G
I loved the snide remark after Jonathan Franzen's comments: "We prefer reading our favorite texts on clay tablets, just as Hammurabi intended"
at 12:46 on 31-01-2012, Arthur B
Ümläüẗs übër ällës!
at 11:20 on 31-01-2012, valse de la lune
Andy: the solution seems simple to me, we all write our names with lots of diacritics. Hello, my new friend Ándï!
at 01:53 on 31-01-2012, Michal
I started The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya and it's occurred to me that Tolstaya has inadvertently achieved what all the New Weird authors in the west have tried to achieve but haven't really (that is, being weird and New Wave and all literary at the same time). No insect-people, however.

At least, not yet.
at 00:28 on 31-01-2012, Andy G
The apostrophe must die. A post by someone with personal reasons to hate the apostrophe.
at 18:30 on 30-01-2012, Robinson L
Arthur: I think once MPs start doing something it's officially No Longer Cool.

I'll go along with that. Although I suppose it's possible for MPs to be cool, too. Theoretically.

In other news, here's another great article on feminism and class (with a little about race) from Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown, published in the US lefty magazing In These Times.

Browsing their site for the online copy of the article, I also found a short but insightful piece on the narrow definition of racism ascribed to by most Americans, using Ron Paul as a case study.
at 21:22 on 29-01-2012, Arthur B
Is Paul McCartney's new release a concept album about rimming? I ask because that is a title you would give to a concept album about rimming.
at 19:07 on 27-01-2012, Wardog
@Finbarr - ditto!!!