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 00:15 on 14-07-2014, James D
I remember him mostly as another influential science fiction author who went mad on the subject of Islam.

Wow, no kidding. That's some of the most laughable shit I've ever read, and most depressing too, in that a (relatively) intelligent human being with a large following actually believes it. He even says it himself:

Finally, it's also true that I've noticed that even the most famous (and popular) (and beloved) writers from the 20th and 21st Century can be abysmally stupid when it comes to politics. This tendency toward idiotic political opinions may be one of the very few ways in which novelists and poets are like movie stars and rock idols.

Luckily I'd already sworn off of Dan Simmons after the massive turd that was The Fall of Hyperion.
at 19:04 on 13-07-2014, Michal
I was thinking more of this.
at 06:14 on 13-07-2014, Daniel F
Is Dan Simmons one of those guys with a PC Police persecution complex? I've read a couple of his books (wasn't impressed at all), but haven't read anything about his attitudes and politics.

I don't know if he has specific beefs with 'political correctness' (whatever that is), but I remember him mostly as another influential science fiction author who went mad on the subject of Islam. Ilium was the only novel by him I read - not a fan, incidentally - and after reading this I decided I probably didn't want to give him any more money.
at 04:32 on 13-07-2014, Fin
Speaking of awesome webcomics, I've been enjoying Manfeels Park. I'm particularly fond of this one.
at 04:09 on 13-07-2014, James D
There's a webcomic about Dan Simmons?

Is Dan Simmons one of those guys with a PC Police persecution complex? I've read a couple of his books (wasn't impressed at all), but haven't read anything about his attitudes and politics.
at 13:52 on 12-07-2014, Sonia Mitchell
Oh yeah, html. Right.
Transformers passports.
at 13:50 on 12-07-2014, Sonia Mitchell
Latest odd news from the Isle of Wight - passports for tourists sponsored by Transformers.

at 01:05 on 12-07-2014, Michal
There's a webcomic about Dan Simmons?
at 23:57 on 10-07-2014, Arthur B
I suspect that anything more substantial than a brief short story will end up being a movie rather than a novel. (It's happening already with this Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them deal, after all.)

I agree that there's nothing necessarily wrong with Rowling producing microfiction for Pottermore. I mean, the hint's in the title, right? Couldn't make it clearer unless she called it Harry Potter Expanded Universe Website, which isn't as pleasing.
at 21:15 on 10-07-2014, Alice
Or both? ;)

I wonder to what extent Rowling's apparent refusal to just leave the Harry Potter phenomenon alone stems from (perceived) fan demand, and how much of it is her genuinely wanting to continue writing in that world.

I have no problem with authors continuing to work on their most popular creations in between writing other stuff, but the HP book series is so self-contained/complete that further additions on the part of JKR are beginning to seem just a tad self-indulgent.

(This is of course slightly complicated by the fact that the new piece is from Pottermore, which strikes me as just separate/different enough from the books that I'm okay with JKR producing new content for it. I basically think of Pottermore as being its own ongoing canon, so I don't really mind additions to book!canon existing on Pottermore, whereas additions to book!canon that come out of interviews with Rowling tend to bug me in a "but Death Of The Author!" sort of way.)
at 12:06 on 27-06-2014, Daniel F
I suspect it's unhelpful to use the words 'liberal' and 'conservative' in contexts divorced from particular issues anyway. It's very hard to be conservative in general; but easy to occupy conservative or liberal positions on particular issues.

So I prefer to try and make some description of the principles guiding a person's thought. What's the logic behind a person's political convictions? For a lot of people there will be multiple competing and even contradictory principles, so how people trade off their principles against each other really matters too. Linkara didn't seem too complicated, because his convictions (it seemed to me) are fairly consistent, and come in a clear hierarchy: liberty good, this helps liberty, we should spread liberty, and so on. He just has an attachment to the word 'conservative' that can be misleading.
at 11:15 on 27-06-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
The terms liberal and libertarianism as well as others are hopelessly mixed-up nowadays, as people on different sides of the Atlantic have their own meanings on things and I'm sure the definitions change according to the local politics where ever one goes. And added to this the whole mess of what exactly does left and right mean anyways?

So describing something from axiomatic principles is probably a good way to go, although it might be tricky. My own view is that while liberty is surely one of the key values in a society, it is not the only one. But that sort of realistic conservatism that we understand Linkara to have is at least reflective and capable of dialogue with differing views.

I just did a google search on top hats and it seems a lot of people are doing it, although most of them seem to be conventionally pretty. I do not know what the significance of this is.
at 11:12 on 27-06-2014, Arthur B
Ah, Google rides to the rescue.

Based on what he says about the Republican party, the failure to address reconstruction in the wake of military intervention, and his willingness to set aside his ideology where practically speaking it just wouldn't work or isn't what is called for, it sounds like Linkara would like to live in a world where libertarianism and maximised personal freedom and lassaiz-faire economics all work, but is at least perceptive enough to not blind himself to circumstances where they don't work, but at the same time doesn't take the next step of considering why these instances pop up where those things don't work and adjusting his worldview and ideology accordingly.

I mean, it's heartening that he's firmly against "racists, homophobes, sexists, douchebags, and general crazy people", and it's good that his belief in personal liberty has prompted him to support feminism and other social justice causes, but at the same time arguably "conservative" is a poor descriptor for his position because what is he actually trying to conserve? (If anything, if you are very big on personal liberty then logically you should take the position that if society is changing, you shouldn't try to stop it changing, because that would obstruct the freedom of people to live along new lines if they so desire.) So far as I can tell he's keen on capitalism and small government, but capital is an agent of change, stripping down government is a process of change...
at 10:38 on 27-06-2014, Daniel F
Something like that. I was thinking of a social ethic that boils down to "do as thou wilt, an harm none". I don't feel a particular need to quibble liberalism versus libertarianism.

There is a coherent worldview here, I think. The objective of our politics ought to be to maximise personal liberty. Market capitalism is the economic system most conducive to that goal. We have a moral imperative to spread liberty to others. It's not a worldview I would endorse - at least, not without severe hesitation - but it's not raving mad either.
at 10:36 on 27-06-2014, Tamara
Interesting - I wonder why a fedora/trilby/newsboy cap/whatever else we're wearing seems sharp and flattering, but a top hat or a powdered wig is (for now) frumpy, ridiculous or costumish. Just the historical associations, or something more intrinsic to that actual shape that matches current tastes?

Right, where do we stand on bowlers?

And tricorns.
at 09:59 on 27-06-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
Daniel F:

Seems to be a sort of social liberalism thing too, although you might've meant that, in the fashion of J. S. Mill or Isaiah Berlin?


Lots of those cool hats can be just casual sure, especially as you get them in more varied colours. But I guess the thing with these sorts seems to be a decidedly dark coloured and formal sort of dress hat. But who knows what they were aiming for really. Top hats are pretty cool too, right? Abe Lincoln and Slash can't be totally wrong...
at 09:44 on 27-06-2014, Tamara
I could go with Hussar outfits on men...Reminds me of watching Remington Steele a while back, where Pierce Brosnan was a Neil-Caffery-like character and wore a lot of slim three piece suits and the like, and I kept thinking - damn, we need to bring this back. He didn't really wear much in the way of hats though.

Anyway, to overthink the hat thing further, I don't think sneakers, cargo shorts and a fedora is per se a failed attempt at "sharp, classy and old fashioned." The mismatch of styles/levels of formality is surely a deliberate attempt at...something. Punkiness? Uniqueness? Insouciance? Doesn't mean it actually works, of course, but that's what I'd assume to be the subconscious underlying mentality of the look, more so than gentlemanlyness.

Besides, the casual fedora could arguably be a thing in itself now, more or less divorced from its historical context - when you can get them in lime and turquoise plaid or orange polka dots, it's just a fun hat.

This might also be a sunny climate thing - I genuinely wear hats sometimes because I want to keep the sun off, and baseball caps and bucket hats get tiresome after a while. I had a sort of panama type hat (I think - fedora like but broader brim) for a while, and I wore it with anything with no aspiration to sharpness or formality.
at 09:01 on 27-06-2014, Daniel F
Ah, Google rides to the rescue.

That's... an odd definition of conservatism. It reads to me like a mixture of social libertarianism and free market capitalism. And military interventionism, weirdly. I'm not sure what to make of it.
at 05:54 on 27-06-2014, Daniel F
Fair enough. I remembered that he was a Christian, and I also remember him talking about 'might for right' in a very positive way on a forum (and we come full circle back to Arthur), but beyond that didn't have many more specifics. What I remember most are comments like the start of this review, where he does a good job of hammering in the problems with sexism in comics.

Regarding metaplots: I'm fine with them when it comes off as a bit of spontaneous goofing off. It's what TGWTG reviewers tend to do well: coming off as a silly, nerdy friend. So e.g. the end of the Neutro review is fine and even amusing. It's when they start taking themselves seriously that I tune out. Around the time I stopped regularly watching he'd been doing something about fighting a Terminator clone of himself, followed by a Power Rangers pastiche about a villain threatening to destroy the Earth with a spaceship.

Whereas I went there to laugh at bad comic books. Not to watch a poorly-acted wish-fulfilment story about a comics nerd with superpowers.
at 18:30 on 26-06-2014, Robinson L
@Daniel F: Yes, he's a conservative. He's mentioned his support for Bush during the latter's presidency a couple times, and he's also discussed his support for capitalism and opposition to high taxation. (Granted, conservatives aren't the only ones who support capitalism, but the language he uses is a kind you don't often hear in the mouths of US liberals.)

I've noticed him usually going out of his way to draw attention to feminist issues in comics.

Which is what I was referring to when I said he seems to be basically good on social issues.

I'd criticise him for the terrible metaplots he used to shoehorn into his reviews.

I, uh, actually find storylines pretty entertaining, even if they do have precious little to do with movie/game/comics reviews.
at 16:51 on 26-06-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
Being betrayed by headgear is not necessarily the worst, but it must definitely be one of the most disappointing things to happen to a person.
at 14:20 on 26-06-2014, Michal
I realize now that posting "general reasons why fedoras have negative associations on the internet these days" was a non-sequitur.

So trying to circle back to the original point, it is funny that when Linkara revealed in a video that he was a Christian it caused an uproar in a chunk of his fan base that was 100% sure he was an atheist. I would not be surprised if the no. 1 reason for that assumption was his choice of hat.