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 19:39 on 02-02-2014, Arthur B
Moorcock releases revisions of his books sometimes for understandable reasons ("Whoops, perhaps I shouldn't end Gloriana with rape curing her") and sometimes for irritating ones ("I'll change everyone's surname to a variation of "von Bek", that'll rake in the nerd dollars!").

On the whole there comes a point where you have to stop fiddling with a piece because you're wearing down whatever made it good in the first place.
at 19:23 on 02-02-2014, Danielle
Sometimes authors do release edited versions; Ray Feist did it for Magician, and I'm pretty sure Stephen King did the same with The Stand and the first one or two Dark Tower novels. Personally I'm ok with authors releasing revised editions, but when it's just to add scenes I suspect it would be a lot like the "extended" editions of films where you can generally see why the scenes were cut in the first place. I submit the epic mistake that is "Human Again" from Beauty and the Beast.
at 19:03 on 02-02-2014, Daniel F
That makes me wonder, actually: why the problem with releasing an edited revision of a novel? It strikes me that releasing altered versions of a work isn't controversial in other media, such as when you have a director's cut release of a popular film. I think I would be bothered by an attempt to suppress the first version or to declare that the first one never happened, and the revision is somehow more true; but in principle, I'm not sure I mind an author releasing altered versions of a text.

Well, actually, I might dislike it for the money-grubbing aspect. That's not essential to a re-release, though.
at 19:01 on 02-02-2014, Arthur B
Yeah, "Dumbledore was actually gay" would have been vastly less infuriating if she'd pitched it as "Dumbledore was actually gay, but I don't think that ever came across in the series and in retrospect I wish I'd handled it better".
at 18:06 on 02-02-2014, Dan H
Perhaps surprisingly, I'm remarkably *un* bothered by it. It bothers me when JKR makes pronouncements about What Happens After the Books Finish, because I don't see that as her job, and I'd have been deeply annoyed if she'd stood up and said "actually, Ron and Hermione get divorced some time after the Epilogue and she gets together with Harry", or if she decided to release an edited version of the books where Harry and Hermoine get together instead, but I have no problem at all with an author looking back on their work and saying "actually, in hindsight, I should probably have done that differently."
at 13:41 on 02-02-2014, Tamara
I am incredibly bothered by this. Not from any particularly investment in the shipping angle, but just because it messes with my sense of the borders of fiction and reality - always a little fragile, if we're being honest - and ability to be be both analytical about a work and just immersed in it. Just stop it, authors. Be metaphorically internet dead. Please.
at 07:41 on 02-02-2014, Daniel F
J. K. Rowling is apparently not done second-guessing the Potter series.
at 00:30 on 02-02-2014, Arthur B
I'm pretty sure the editor received something like that a year or two ago so yeah, utter disinterest at our end, anyone else gets similar mails please do not engage.
at 20:30 on 01-02-2014, Robinson L
@Sonia: Yeah, that's it. And I suppose it's a plausible explanation for how they got my e-mail - there's a link to my livejournal account in my contributor profile (although I don't think I advertise my e-mail address on my LJ profile, so I guess they'd either have to do a little hacking, or possibly use the Wayback Machine).

I figured it was probably spam of some sort, and even if it wasn't, something the editorial team here would be completely uninterested in. But since I didn't know for sure on either count, and the message clearly isn't intended for me, I should at least pass along the gist of the message before relegating it to the dustbin.

So long, Slap Up Media.
at 18:58 on 01-02-2014, Sonia Mitchell
Huh, I got one of those for our domain at work. Sounds like the exact same wording. Subject line "A quick question about sponsored content for"?
I'm not going to reply.

It is odd that they linked your personal email to FerretBrain, though. Maybe through your LJ somehow?
at 18:51 on 01-02-2014, Shimmin
I wouldn't, to be quite honest. A glance at Google Plus will trawl up people complaining about SUM spamming them and stealing email addresses. I've no reason to think they're legit in any meaningful sense and I don't propose to visit their website if they have one. And even if they were genuinely a legit company making a serious proposition, you aren't actually interested in their service. So not worth it.

Responding to spam email is a bad idea because it confirms that an email address is useful, and anyway I value your writing time more highly than that.
at 18:06 on 01-02-2014, Robinson L
I got a pretty strange e-mail the other day, from a representative of "Slap Up Media," asking me if I "would be interested in accepting a sponsored article for your site," and encouraging me to write back if I have any questions.

These "Slap Up Media" people have an online presence, where they bill themselves as "a different kind of digital marketing agency," so they at least appear to be a legit operation. But how they got the impression I am in any way party to the running of the site - or, for that matter, my e-mail address - I haven't the foggiest.

Any ideas for how I should respond?

Also, reaching back a bit, @Adrienne: I've read that Foz Meadows article on men impersonating women in online gaming. Very eye-opening; thanks for sharing.
at 12:09 on 29-01-2014, Tamara
I can't figure out if it's valorizing or mocking programmers. Also, I am clearly thinking about it because of my deep interest in the fascinating subject of comparative exkaysediology, and not because I'm really, really bored right now.
at 10:15 on 29-01-2014, Arthur B
Today's XKCD, meanwhile, is impossibly oblique.
at 23:24 on 28-01-2014, James D
In the last panel of that comic, it would've been way better if the other guy said something like "there's a reason you're still unemployed."

But of course that would be poking fun at Randall Munroe's worldview, so he'd never do it.
at 20:45 on 28-01-2014, Tamara
I just spent fifteen minutes looking for a worse XKCD, and I am now willing to accept your premise. Very well, this one is the worst.
at 20:30 on 28-01-2014, Dan H
That's the thing, I think the trace of absurdity just makes it *worse*. It's like a perfect storm of things that annoy me about XKCD. Self-consciously quirky non-humour, fetishisation of innocence and childishness, and delivering a poorly exposited smackdown to a faceless strawman who has the temerity to question the author's oh-so-quirky worldview.

At least the straight-up sentimental ones are just straight-up sentimental.
at 20:23 on 28-01-2014, Tamara
Now obviously I can't think of a worse XKCD off of the top of my head, but you know, all those ones about finding love and enjoying nature and what have you. This one has some trace of absurdity, at least.
at 20:06 on 28-01-2014, Tamara
I actually really like The Big Bang Theory. It takes quite a lot for television to wring actual *emotion* out of me, and this seemingly idiotic show somehow manages spades of sadness, pity, discomfort and more than a touch of awkward, wincing identification. I respect the hell out of that with no irony whatsoever.

And I can't stand that self-pitying, elitist streak in geek culture that you guys bring up, so maybe I also just tend to reflexively like what it doesn't. And there's the fact that people seem to be capable of loathing it with great passion for it being a way for the 'regular people' to trample the poor geeks, and other loathing it with equal passion for being a Nice-Guy wet dream about demeaning the pretty girl. The possibility of multiple, fervently held, totally contradictory readings? In a sitcom? Hm. I can't help it, that's just immediately interesting to me.

Good grief, talking about TBBT is like what I do on the internet now. Why do people care about it so much?
at 20:00 on 28-01-2014, Dan H
I don't know, I kind of think Beret Guy dragged XKCD to all new heights of tweeness.

What would you count as tweeer? (Is that the correct comparative?) I suppose some of the really early ones like "none of the places I floated had mommies" and love math, but I don't think anything has quite managed to combine "twee" with "preachy" with "bullshit" in quite the same way.
at 19:39 on 28-01-2014, Tamara
You can't possibly think *that's* the twee-est XKCD ever. (and I quite like XKCD a lot of the time.)
at 18:05 on 28-01-2014, James D
At first I thought it was making a mildly amusing point about how language can be totally intelligible and descriptive while also being *totally wrong*, or perhaps how people get hung up on the form of communication in situations where the content is what's really important (see: internet Grammar Nazis), but then it took a hard left into quirky sentimentality even though the first part doesn't really set it up. It's like Munroe wants XKCD to be the Calvin & Hobbes of the hipster generation, but without half the talent.
at 16:13 on 28-01-2014, Arthur B
Ah yes, because the best way to feel young and fresh and untouched by the grubby cynicism of the world is to talk in a juvenile made-up language that makes it difficult for other people to understand what you're talking about.