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 08:48 on 10-03-2014, Shimmin
Yes, congrats for that.
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at 01:55 on 10-03-2014, Sister Magpie
Go Alasdair!!
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at 15:02 on 08-03-2014, Robinson L
Arthur: Congratulations, Al!

Though the article won't feel the same without the appended alchemy discussion.

Seconded on both counts. That's so cool.


Shimmin: I only read XKCD when people mention it here, because as you say it's one of many mediocre webcomics and I read other stuff instead.

Ditto.
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at 23:34 on 07-03-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
Excellent news Alasdair. It was a very good essay.
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at 20:27 on 07-03-2014, Alice
Congratulations, Alasdair!
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at 18:51 on 07-03-2014, Melanie
Congratulations!

What I find funny is that the end of that expression is already "you make an ass out of u and me"--so the person saying it is insulting themselves exactly as much as they're insulting the person who assumed. IMO this makes it almost meaningless to turn it back on the person saying it.
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at 15:40 on 07-03-2014, Arthur B
Congratulations, Al!

Though the article won't feel the same without the appended alchemy discussion.

(By definition, hasn't all the material in the book been published in 2013? I guess this is a magic-of-paper thing...)
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at 15:10 on 07-03-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
If I may briefly interrupt comics chat for a second...

I just wanted to mention that Thea James and Ana Grilo, the two ladies behind The Book Smugglers review blog, have announced that they're putting together Speculative Fiction 2013, collecting some of the best online nonfiction writing about genre from the past year.

The lineup they've got is pretty varied. There's Joe Abercrombie, N. K. Jemisen, Abigail Nussbaum...and Alasdair Czyrnyj.

My Prometheus article is in there. Something I've written is actually gonna get published. It's the first time anything I've written has been published.

*small excited voice* Yaaaaaaaaaaay.

(Oh, and to segue back into comic chat, after discovering condescending misogynistic fug that is Least I Could Do, I find Randall Munroe slightly more tolerable.)
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at 12:44 on 07-03-2014, Arthur B
It's kind of ironic because Munroe's making fun of a canned clever response, but he's using his patented canned cleverness to do so.
And it isn't even that clever. "You know what happens..." is typically not used as an actual statement of fact so much as a rhetorical slap (the implication being that the person being addressed bloody well should know even if they don't actually know). This is something people generally pick up if they have conversations with actual human beings who use that particular idiom so whilst the comic thinks it is presenting Generico McCoolguy giving a wicked zinger, really it just depicts ol' Generico as someone whose grasp of context and tone and idiom and other such things appears to be slightly lacking.
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at 11:54 on 07-03-2014, Tamara
I actually brought it up here because it's the only place I know to get a bit of discussion about it, particularly critical. Leaving aside whether everyone else loves it or what, it's just that I really like analyzing very banal, taken-for-granted forms of communication.

I can muse on about the way stale sitcoms, terrible movies, repetitive webcomics or sexist bodice rippers do what they do happily for days, with much more interest than I have for analyzing Booker nominee list, regardless of the fact that I think the latter is probably better art. (Maybe because the latter is better.) It's not so much that I have a strong opinion on XKCD, as I find anyone having opinions on XKCD really interesting.

Or, arguable, I just have really bad taste and like to revel in it.
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at 11:36 on 07-03-2014, Shimmin
I'm a little curious why Ferretbrainers seem to be so down on it.


I suspect this is a mixture of confirmation bias and in-group stuff. A handful of commenters talk about XKCD occasionally, but it's only noticable when they do that, not the many occasions when they don't. Also, talking about XKCD on Ferretbrain has been done enough that it's now a thing to do if you have Opinions about that comic, and perhaps Ferretbrainers are now more likely to read it with previous Opinions in mind.

With a small group of regular commenters that kind of thing starts to look very prominent. But for example, I only read XKCD when people mention it here, because as you say it's one of many mediocre webcomics and I read other stuff instead.

Also possible that people look at XKCD who may not read many webcomics, and so aren't likely to talk about those? It has enough geek momentum built up that maybe people are still reading along who haven't got into other webcomics. But they'd have to tell us, I dunno.
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at 11:34 on 07-03-2014, James D
Any opinions on today's XKCD?

It's pretty bad. The "zing" hinges entirely on the specific way it's set up, and that setup is only really technically an assumption anyway. She could easily have just left out the "you know what happens" and started with "when you assume..." in which case the smug coolguy would've been left without his oh-so-clever response. It's kind of ironic because Munroe's making fun of a canned clever response, but he's using his patented canned cleverness to do so. That's my two cents, anyway.

I think it's the combination of intense mediocrity, occasional diversions into genuinely being infuriating/bad, and excessive prominence.

On top of that Munroe has developed this smug, I'm-so-clever tone, without actually being clever at all. His comics often try for pithy, short zingers, like he thinks he's a modern-day Oscar Wilde, but they just fall flat most of the time.
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at 11:07 on 07-03-2014, Arthur B
I think it's the combination of intense mediocrity, occasional diversions into genuinely being infuriating/bad, and excessive prominence.
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at 10:57 on 07-03-2014, Daniel F
*shrug* Not really?

I'm a little curious why Ferretbrainers seem to be so down on it. You could fill a very large pool with the world's mediocre webcomics. What makes XKCD so remarkable?
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at 10:48 on 07-03-2014, Tamara
Any opinions on today's XKCD?
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at 20:51 on 06-03-2014, Danielle
My lovely horse, you're a pony no more
Running around with a man on your back, like a train in the night...


I might never sleep again.
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at 22:00 on 05-03-2014, Robinson L
A lighthearted incident from the campus of Reed College (a uni here in the States) last month:

Giant snowball batters Reed dorm.

My favorite part of the whole thing is the comment by Frederic Bahnson at the end:

Am I really the first person to point out that the math majors' trajectory prediction probably started with the assumption that the snowball was a perfect sphere? That never works in the real world. At Old Reed, the physics majors would have been on hand to help with the application of all that math theory. That said, that's an impressive snowball.
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at 10:42 on 05-03-2014, Arthur B
It sounds like a really sad and awkward situation all round. This is the same person who, much earlier in the Kickstarter, caused another controversy by claiming to have faked depression in order to get artistic credibility and alleging that faking depression for credibility is actually quite common.

Friends of Campbell are making very, very worried sounds and aren't able to get in touch so it's very alarming, I find the tone of the latest update veers uncomfortably between "I am not coping well currently" and "I am making an inflammatory political statement and I refuse to even apologise for not honouring a commitment I entered into with you completely voluntarily".

(Incidentally, I note that the Kickstarter doesn't include money for postage and reading the titles of the backer-only updates it sounds to me like Campbell simply couldn't afford to post the books to people.)
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at 06:33 on 05-03-2014, Melanie
I enjoy how his "threat" is to destroy books that he already admitted he has no intention of shipping to people anyway.
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at 16:42 on 28-02-2014, Michal
Strangely, I am at this moment listening to a CBC radio program about what exactly "middle class" means.
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at 10:26 on 28-02-2014, Tamara
@Ash - it's ok. Everything is perfectly audible, certainly, not worse than just listening to regular MP3 player with serviceable headphones. I had one with a radio though, that was weird.The quality would change drastically whenever your head was in/out of the water.
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at 22:25 on 27-02-2014, Adrienne
@Ash: it's not from this year, it's from 2013. Rat-Catcher by Seanan McGuire is ONLY available in a print antho from Subterranean Press, which is out of print and the cheapest available copies are like $80-$100. (And it's available in the Hugo packet from 2013.)
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