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 18:44 on 01-02-2012, Arthur B
Being a Luddite isn't mutually exclusive with writing SF - there's a whole tradition in the genre of dire and alarmist warnings about science Going Too Far.

In Ray Bradbury's case, there's his entire corpus of Mars stories to stand as fairly compelling evidence that he's an SF writer.
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at 18:18 on 01-02-2012, Sister Magpie
Also, the Ray Bradbury quote is kind of hilarious and really not surprising. I mean, I absolutely love Bradbury, but does he really write science fiction? There's absolutely nothing I can think of in his books that *wouldn't* suggest he'd be a Luddite.
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at 18:12 on 01-02-2012, Sister Magpie
Have to chime in on the pro e-book side, despite the fact that I recently sat on my Nook (having put a stool on it) and broke it. I'd just upgraded so they were able to replace it in the store. Felt really stupid, though.

Anyway, I love it. It's great having something that's always the same size and pretty light to carry with me to read on the subway--some library books were really big and heavy. (I enjoyed the walks to the library, but it is pretty convenient to be able to just check out the book at home--though impossible to renew immediately and not as good of a selection.) If I really want a book immediately I get it with the press of a button. The biggest drawback is probably my paranoia that I'm going to drop it on the train tracks by accident or destroy it in some way and have to get a new one and load it all up again. But in general I've totally embraced it, although I love books as objects. Nook also has a share feature for some books.

So yeah, I get a lot of practical use out of my ereader. In fact, earlier it was handy to be able to look up something in a book I wanted to reference even though I hadn't read the book in a while. It was right there inside the book I'm reading now.
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at 17:11 on 01-02-2012, valse de la lune
Well, you're talking to a pirate, so I have no problem "lending" ebooks in any case. :) (And the books I do buy, I immediately strip the DRM--it's not particularly hard--and if it's a book I think is garbage, I feel no qualms about sharing them.)

Though real books are also pretty easy to highlight/annotate, and the copy-paste thing is a bonus for ebooks rather e-readers.


You can't draw/write freely on a paper book. There's only so much margin. You also can't select the highlights/annotations, hit "share" and sync them to somewhere you can access on your PC for review purposes. Yeah, more about advantage of ebooks over paper books rather than ereaders over paper books, but there it is. The form factor of an ereader/tablet also makes it much easier to, er, read than reading off your desktop or laptop.

There's also a screen technology that lets you switch freely between "e-ink" and backlit LCD mode. The unbacklit mode is very good indeed, though the LCD mode is washed out.
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at 16:39 on 01-02-2012, Arthur B
You can apparently only lend books where the rights holder (usually the publisher or author) has ticked the relevant box, so it isn't an option for everything. But that kind of puts to the idea that it's all big bad Amazon controlling access to content and authors/publishers losing control to the Amazon leviathan.
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at 16:06 on 01-02-2012, Andy G
Didn't know that, good to know. Though so far I only have 2 actual books on it.
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at 15:06 on 01-02-2012, Arthur B
Actually the Kindle lets you lend books to people for a space of two weeks, provided they also have a Kindle. Once the time limit's up it gets auto-scrubbed from their Kindle, and you can only ever lend each book to 1 person, but even so that's way more than I'd expect from DRM-protected stuff. And loads of places sell stuff DRM-free.

Also, having a Kindle hasn't stopped me buying physical books, it just means I only buy physical books which are good enough to deserve shelf space.
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at 15:02 on 01-02-2012, Andy G
"easy to highlight/annotate, easy to copy-paste text to quote in reviews"

Though real books are also pretty easy to highlight/annotate, and the copy-paste thing is a bonus for ebooks rather e-readers.

I personally find the advantage over "real" books is cost and space, though the advantage over reading on an ereader vs reading on a laptop screen shouldn't be forgotten too.

One thing that's recently struck me is that it is much harder to *lend* ebooks to friends (at least if they have copyright protections); though theoretically should make it much much easier for libraries to loan books out to people.
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at 05:53 on 01-02-2012, Frank
Going back to Arthur's comic find, I think it's more than his, the sketcher's, whiteboy's club rant. It is my guess that the doodle was drawn because xMenfangirlhothair31415 fucks other guys and probably likes it but won't fuck the sketcher who believes himself to be a Nice Guy.
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at 05:48 on 01-02-2012, valse de la lune
Ebooks: searchable texts, easy to highlight/annotate, easy to copy-paste text to quote in reviews.

That and physical books equal batshit shipping fees for me.
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at 01:40 on 01-02-2012, Michal
I'm also in the "nay e-readers" camp. All my reading material since I left university comes from used book stores and the library. An even shallower reason: I find a full bookshelf aesthetically pleasing. That's really all there is to it.
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at 00:40 on 01-02-2012, Andy G
I personally bought a Kindle so I could read academic articles without spending all day staring into a screen. Turns out that the 2nd year of my PhD involves spending my whole time writing, so the plan of not staring at a screen all day didn't really work out too well, but I've read a few books on it now too and I find it absolutely fine and comfy. The ability to do a text search more or less cancels out the annoyance of not just being able to flick instantly to the bit I want to get to.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.)
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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".
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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!
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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.
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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.
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at 19:04 on 31-01-2012, Michal
I'm surprised that wasn't taken from xkcd.
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