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 11:28 on 01-07-2011, Wardog
OMG! Oxford Branding People Declare War on Oxford Comma!. We have Judas-ed our own comma! (Insert: obligatory who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma joke).
at 10:59 on 01-07-2011, Arthur B
If it's taken from real life, then I can't say I'm surprised screaming "STOP IT! STOP IT!" is a common response to Randall talking.
at 10:57 on 01-07-2011, Guy
To raise a perennial topic: what the hell is up with today's XKCD? What's the joke? Where's the punchline? How is the title even related to what happens? What does it even mean?

Not sure, but I suspect a friend of his has a hatred of certain neologisms, and he is stringing them together in a fashion designed to grate on their nerves. Little bit in-jokey.
at 10:47 on 01-07-2011, Arthur B
If you locked a bunch of people in a box for a year with nothing but 500 photos of a guy eating a sandwich they'd all die in a flurry of cannibalism within a month or so.

And then you'll go to jail and everyone will be mad at you.

So don't do it.
at 08:58 on 01-07-2011, Shimmin
Haven't a blinkin' clue, sorry mate, looks like random gibbering to me.
On another note, I spotted the wine/sandwich photo comic and suddenly realised that in any case, Randall missed a trick. If you locked people in a box for a year with 500 photos of a bloke eating a sandwich, they'd invent a variety of sandwich-photo-based games with names like Top Munch and Sandwich: the Slathering, then schism over which edition of the rules to use and stop speaking to each other.
at 08:20 on 01-07-2011, Arthur B
To raise a perennial topic: what the hell is up with today's XKCD? What's the joke? Where's the punchline? How is the title even related to what happens? What does it even mean?
at 08:01 on 01-07-2011, valse de la lune
I now can't see the word "ace" without immediately associating it with asexuality. ;D
at 06:12 on 01-07-2011, Vermisvere
Ah, fuck Fred Phelps and that bunch of self-righteous wankers from WBC. I never really paid attention to him anyway, although Ku Klux Klan protesting at their demonstration is pretty damn hilarious.
at 23:31 on 30-06-2011, Fin
By the way, has anyone pointed out yet that asexuals really hit the jackpot when it comes to shorthand? So many double entendres out there, and all of them complimentary.

It's been pointed out before. My favourite is any variation on ace detective/pilot/etc. It's awesome to know that I'll be an ace at anything I try to do. ;)
at 23:21 on 30-06-2011, Orion
The WBC picketed my campus twice in the last 4 years, including a really weird one where they were very careful not to utter a single homophobic word so they could focus on anti-semitism. Apparently they realized they needed a diverse bigotry portfolio to prepare for retirement?

Anyway, the frat boys played "It's raining men" on boomboxes and danced in their boxers, while the ministry students waved signs reading "God hate figs Matthew 21."
at 22:59 on 30-06-2011, Arthur B
I think the WBC are pretty infamous around the world to be honest. Louis Theroux did a couple of really good documentaries on them, and given that they've gone out of their way to be as offensive as they possibly can for well over a decade at this point I think online awareness of them is pretty high.
at 22:30 on 30-06-2011, Robinson L
I'm not sure how many regular Ferretneurons have heard of Westboro Baptist Church - one of the most odious congregations here in the States. They usually demonstrate at local military funerals, claiming the wars are punishment from God for the United States' tolerance of homosexuality. Tossers.

Normally, I wouldn't dignify these kooks with any further discussion, except for something that happened about a month ago at one of their demonstrations in Arlington; specifically at the counter-protest. On that day many Americans demonstrated against the members of the Westboro Baptist Church; they stood up and said "This is wrong."

Including a delegation from the Ku Klux Klan.

... It's like a debate between Sauron and Emperor Palpatine with each trying to establish the other's inherent evilness.

Oh, and reaching back a bit:

Pyrofennec: I'm delighted that you're interested in reading about happy ace/bi/gay people. :D I don't know really, it's a huge monster of a thing and I'm incredibly frowny about letting anyone read it (largely because it got rewritten from the ground up... four times, ahaha).

Oh, most definitely interested. By the way, has anyone pointed out yet that asexuals really hit the jackpot when it comes to shorthand? So many double entendres out there, and all of them complimentary. (Well, maybe not "ace in the hole," depending on context ...)
at 05:49 on 30-06-2011, Michal
I'm searching for the inevitable comment that will pop up somewhere: "Wow, this new comic about 'strong women' is really insightful and hilarious! I just love Kate Beaton. I want to marry her and have her babies."

You know it's coming.
at 18:34 on 29-06-2011, Fin
It brightens up my day. ;)
at 18:26 on 29-06-2011, Arthur B
I see someone else subscribes to man boobz.
at 18:09 on 29-06-2011, Fin
Some of the MRA responses to the Kate Beaton comic Arthur linked to about a jillion posts ago* are awesome.

It's so cute when misogynists get confused.

* I like how active the Playpen seems to be lately :D
at 17:50 on 29-06-2011, Melissa G.
(PS - in this context Anti-Semite sounds like a sort of yeast-based spread, like Vegi-Mite)

That just makes me think it should be spread onto a bagel, which just seems sort of ironic.
at 15:33 on 29-06-2011, Arthur B
Just read up on that in Wookiepedia. Yeah, it doesn't seem as deep as the other romances, though at least they patched out the glitch.

I don't think I ever even met Juhani in my playthrough. I really need to replay KotOR, actually, I didn't even meet the hunter-killer droid everyone's so fond of.
at 14:59 on 29-06-2011, valse de la lune
As far as I know, just the one: Juhani from KotOR. Problem is, the "romance" is a truncated one and like the one in ME2 with Kelly, is treated as less "real" than others. In addition, thanks to a glitch in the coding (at least that's what they called it, a glitch) Juhani also professes romantic feelings for a male Revan even though supposedly she was meant to only do so when Revan is female.
at 14:10 on 29-06-2011, Wardog
Leiliana reads *blatantly* as gay to me, but she's romanceable by dudes. I guess it's just not worth their implementation, since such a small section of the market would experience it. *sighs*
at 13:59 on 29-06-2011, Arthur B
Well - but doesn't that just give the go-ahead for latent homophobia? Oh *this* sort of character would *never* be a gay. And so on.

I think latent homophobia is going to shine through whichever approach they take, but I do think you're correct that that saying "this NPC has these personality traits, the player doesn't actually have ownership of them" makes expressing it easier unless the designers make a conscious and deliberate effort to avoid that. (But they should be making a conscious and deliberate effort to do so anyway.)

At the very least, if they're willing to say "this particular individual just doesn't do gay romances" - and they have regularly done so, both in terms of their public statements and the way they implement the characters in question - they should be equally willing to say "this particular individual just doesn't do straight romances", and to do so without making embarrassing assumptions about which "sort of character" is gay or straight. They don't seem to do that.

Come to think of it, have Bioware ever included an exclusively homosexual romanceable NPC in a game? I know they have exclusively straight ones (like Morrigan in DA:O can be romanced by male Wardens but not female ones), but I can't off the top of my head remember any NPCs who restrict themselves to non-het romances.
at 12:23 on 29-06-2011, Wardog
Well - but doesn't that just give the go-ahead for latent homophobia? Oh *this* sort of character would *never* be a gay. And so on.

Also, although I personally didn't like Zevran Dudecorset, and although I personally think they lost their bollocks when it came to the fact male bisexuals actually sleep with, y'know, menz ("I am Zevran Dudecorset, I like men and women, apparently, but mainly I talk about women") but at least bisexuality was part of his character, not just a switch the turned on.
at 11:58 on 29-06-2011, Arthur B
I completely agree that who your PC wants to get it on with is definitely part of that ownership, and being able to express attraction towards whichever NPCs you want your PC to is obviously vital to delivering that.

I think whether NPCs in your party should necessarily reciprocate when your PC expresses interest is an entirely different and way more difficult question, to which I'm not sure I have a good answer. Saying "No, if it's genuinely inconsistent with an NPC's character for them to reciprocate then they shouldn't" sets you up to disappoint people who are in it for the wish fulfilment. Saying "Yes, if the player declares that they want their PC to attempt to romance this NPC, said NPC should be up for that and should be romanceable if the players play their cards right, no matter what decisions we've made about their character ourselves" seems to lead to Schrodinger's Bisexual if you try to implement it in a heavy-handed and simplistic manner.

To add even more confusion to the mix, I'm not entirely sure Bioware have actually sat down and decided collectively what their answer to the question actually is. So you end up with a messy compromise where some companions stick to their guns whereas others Zevran about in an unappealing manner.