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.
I see that Scotland remains squirming under the English boot.
Yes, but it was a lot closer than I had expected, considering the economic threatening noises made against independence that I'd seen in the news. Only 55% voted against, apparently, with a very high voter turnout. (At least for what I'm used to. Last time Berlin did this kind of direct popular vote - on whether to put the water supply back under public control - the whole thing failed not because the voters were against it, but because too few people had bothered to vote at all, so the result didn't count as representative.)
Maybe the next time. Isn't one state of Canada doing this sort of secession vote about once a generation?
I took a class with her a couple of years ago, and she's genuinely awesome in person, too, which is always a nice bonus. (The class required me to write my own graphic memoir (a short one, obviously) and when I told her I was worried about being unable to make characters look consistent across panels, she told me not to worry at all because my drawings had a "primitive charm." In a nice way. She also told me she genuinely laughed at an in-class comic I drew about Googling myself, since I happen to share my name with a a c-list serial killer. Good times.)
There's no federal upper house: the Scottish government has no formal role in deciding on UK-wide legislation (although the UK Parliament does include members representing Scottish constituencies).
An overnight count with results in the morning is pretty standard for UK elections. Sometimes the full results aren't known until the following afternoon, but I imagine Scotland will be quicker than a whole-UK vote.
It's on Friday, with results expected Saturday morning.
I had heard that several large UK companies were threatening to leave Scotland should the independence thing go through. Also, Scotland would keep most of the UK's North Sea oil reserves, right? I can't imagine London ever letting that escape their grasp. So I wasn't holding my breath.
But I still want to know: How did it go? Wikipedia says that the results aren't in yet. Which seems odd to me - my federal Land of Brandenburg just had elections on Sunday, and they were done calculating seat allotments by Monday morning.
(And can I just briefly mention that I'm almost glad about that weird new "Alternative for Germany" party now? At least they've cost the old neoliberal/libertarian party almost all of their seats. (They also lost all their seats in two other state elections that just happened, meaning they aren't involved in any state government anymore, and just in 6 states they still have a few seats in the opposition. Oh how the mighty have fallen.) And the not-quite-nazi-enough-to-outlaw party even lost some of their 'protest votes' to the AfD, so that's a bit less of an embarrassment now. And weirdly, they also seem to have got half of their voters from formerly extremely socialist-voting people, so that should balance out their right-wing conservatism. Or at least keep them occupied with internal arguments.)
Granted, Brandenburg has far fewer inhabitants than Scotland, but still... What's taking so long? (And why did Scotish people have to specially register to vote? Why not use the same mechanisms as during elections?) Is there some controversy going on with the vote count or something?
By the way, how independent are Scotland and Wales, compared to German federal states? I mean, here the states can decide some stuff pretty autonomously, like subsidies for cultural things or most of school politics. And a council made up from people sent by the state governments acts kind of like the "Upper House" in that they get to veto laws that the federal parliament decides upon, in most cases. Is Scotland more independent? Or do they have reason to chafe at the leash for more than historical reasons?
I would also recommend (if you can find a copy) The Island of Dr. Necreaux, which is quite simple, a lot of fun, and very portable. You get a pulp-style action character composed of three cards from the character deck (e.g. Lucky/Pyrokinetic/Rocketeer or Stone Cold Killer/Gadgeteer/Rogue) with each card having its own abilities, and then you have a limited number of turns to make your way through the encounter deck to rescue the scientists and find a way off the island before it explodes.
Space Alert is gloriously good fun - you're the bridge crew of a spaceship with some profound technological limitations - namely, you need to pre-program all of the ship's activities in battle ahead of time, and some needs to regularly waggle the mouse on the main computer or it goes into hibernation. The game comes with a CD containing mission data and you listen to the CD and plan out your moves together accordingly. Then, when the track is done, you process all the moves and see how you ended up destroying the ship.
Another, lesser-known game that I enjoyed is Ghost Stories, a game based around Chinese mythology. You and up to 3 other people play as Shaolin monks who are trying to defend a village from an army of ghosts and various other undead. It's a lot simpler than Arkham Horror, but god damn is it a brutal game. It has difficulty settings, and even though I've played on the easiest one every time, out of 5 sessions I've only one once! Don't let that put you off, though - that victory was worth all the losses.
A friend just introduced me to Pandemic, which is the first cooperative board game I've ever played, and I really enjoyed it. Basically, I'm too much of a softy to enjoy very competitive games: it's not the "someone has to win" part I mind, it's the "someone has to win by beating everyone else" part (which in my mind is somehow quite different). So I really liked the fact that you play as a team, and all win (or lose!) together.
So I'm keen to try more cooperative board games! To which end: does anyone have any recommendations for similar games they've particularly enjoyed?
My hunch is that the "no" vote will win and will win by a larger margin than expected, simply because most polls are still showing a fairly significant "undecided" bloc and I think most undecideds will opt for staying in the Union if they aren't persuaded by the case for independence by election day. (And if they aren't persuaded by now, after months of campaigning, it's going to be a hard sell to persuade them at this late stage.)
Those who are closer to the business of government than me have suggested that in the long run it may make little difference: our interactions with Scotland under "Devo Max" (not independence, but a bunch more powers devolved to Holyrood including income tax) would look remarkably similar to our interactions with an independent Scotland after various negotiations on currency union, open borders, etc. wrap up.
Apologies for my silence; I thought it best that I took a break to avoid any anger. I don't have anything more to say about GamerGate myself.
If no one minds an awkward change of topic, I've been following a bit about the Scottish referendum from down here. I know most Ferretbrainers (Ferretneurons?) are from the UK. What does it look like over there?
Because I can imagine a few scenarios in which I, as a white woman, wouldn't call out a POC author on shitty things. And, even if I'll probably put my foot in my mouth with the following explanation somewhere, I feel that it's not quite fair to fault or mock me for that and to act like it's based on mindless or knowingly careless support.
I mean, for example if I read a book by a Han chinese author I'm sure I wouldn't notice if it includes stereotypes or racism against any of the Chinese minorities. I just don't have the cultural context to notice that the way someone closer to the culture, like Valse, might have, and I think it's a little unfair to expect me to. (Obviously, it's not too much to ask for a Western author or professional critic to do extensive research before engaging with non-western cultures in literature. But someone who just wants to read a novel, perhaps in hopes of broadening their horizons with the first-hand account of someone belonging to a different culture, instead of going to textbooks or travelogues that would most likely be written by Westeners?) Instead, I'd probably just support the author on the basic principle that it's good to have more non-western authors' works translated into English and increase their access to western markets. Of course I could just shut up and not give my knowingly incomplete opinion on non-western authors at all, ever - but that would create the problem of non-western or POC authors getting even more ignored by the vast majority of fandom than they already are and getting actively deprived of free word-of-mouth publicity. Which seems worse to me than missing some problematic aspects of individual author's writings. Though obviously, it's not okay to keep pretending the writing is perfectly okay once someone with more cultural knowledge has pointed out the problems to you - as long as they tell you they actually have the necessary context and aren't just talking out of their ass. (Which unfortunately would be my first assumption when conversing with someone in English - because I've met quite a lot of people online who think they have an educated opinion just based on a single college course or extensive viewing of Asian cinema.) So maybe Valse was refering to people stubbornly disagreeing with her like that, or refusing to trust her credentials.
(Note: I can see that this would come up in anime/manga fandom far more often than my theoretical example of books by chinese authors. I just couldn't come up with a clear example of racism in Japanese pop culture - at least not racism against anyone but Western people or Chinese. And I'm not sure if that's not like claiming 'reverse racism', even if it's something as obviously offensive if a white person did it like the way African American people are usually drawn in manga. I mean, yes, Japanese people are the dominant majority in their own culture, and as far as I know they don't suffer nearly as much from the same problems with respectless Western tourists the way the rest of Asia does, but they've also been under US military occupation for a long time, so I can understand some animosity towards Westerners, white or otherwise.)
Secondly, I would never dare to call out for example an African American author on race issues, even if I privately thought they might be showing internalised racist ideas in their writing. I'd instead give them the benefit of doubt and assume they're doing it intentionally to make a point, or engaging in some kind of play with stereotypes or slur reclamation that I could never fully understand. Same as I wouldn't call out a gay author for using the word "queer" (or even the f-word) or a female author for using the word "bitch", the way I would feel entitled to call out a straight male author.
And even if it's not about race... I wouldn't feel comfortable criticising a female Muslim author for sexism, for example. I've been told many times that it's presumptuous for a white feminist to tell a Muslim woman what she should feel oppressed or offended by, and that they hate seeing their culture and religion judged in this regard by Westeners or other people who aren't actually part of that culture. So I try to be respectful and bite my tongue.
The same fear of appearing all "mighty whitey" when criticising works by POC authors or set in non-western cultures applies to a lot of contexts, really. Again, does me having to shut up about some aspects that I feel might not be okay because I have no way of truly understanding the details and no right to make the call based on my own cultural background, automatically mean I shouldn't cheer the parts of the narrative that I can understand and agree with? (For example the movie "Before Night Falls": Was the oppression and persecution of gay people in mid-to-late 20th century Cuba really that bad, or is this heavily embellished to serve as anti-socialist propaganda? I have no way of knowing. If asked, today's Cuban people would probably say it's designed to make Castro out as a malicious dictator, but then, most of them are straight and not very sympathetic to gay people, on account of the Catholic religious culture. My knowledge of how things went when my own country was socialist makes me lean towards the author's viewpoint, but then again East Germany and Cuba had very different cultures aside from the socialism. In any case, I find the movie cheer-worthy just for the sympathetic portrayal of historical gay people, and for making a movie out of a gay POC author's biography and thus working against heteronormative and cultural erasure in the cinema.)