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 22:40 on 19-02-2014, Tamara
No, it's not just that. It's the way he frames the idea of what's political, the way he draws a veneer of social justice (!!!) over it. "Political" is, apparently, automatically tentamount to illegitimate, but he's using a technique that is basically a kind of bastardized, idiotic identity politics to make the claim...it's just...nothing to do but shake my head. If this was a line from a novel, i'd have a blast unpacking that character, but this person is apparently...not fictional?
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at 22:30 on 19-02-2014, Robinson L
Tamara: What a completely bizarre, oblivious world view that could possibly allow a person to utter that sentence.

At a guess, the kind that takes the reality of their controlling absurd amounts of resources (far more than they could ever practically need) while millions of others have to scrabble for mere survival, and interprets this state of affairs as not only inevitable, but right and proper, and generally the best of all possible worlds. Or, in other words, what James D said, pretty much.

Speaking of which:

I doubt the super-rich view poor people as anything more than sore losers.

That certainly sounds like a familiar attitude here in the US.
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at 21:36 on 19-02-2014, James D
In a way though, their attitudes make perfect sense - for the vast majority of them, change in income is about the same as change in weather. It might be a shitty, rainy day, but it'll pass soon enough and then things will be sunny and nice again. And in the meantime, they have plenty of shelter. The idea that a downturn in income could result in serious, life-altering consequences is utterly foreign to them - they know about it on an intellectual level I'm sure, but likely lack all ability to empathize with that situation because they've never experienced it and neither has anyone they actually care about. Among their peers, when they complain about money it's because they can't afford that third mansion, or they'll have to wait another month before they buy a Ferrari, not because they're going to be homeless because they can't pay their mortgage.

Money is a game to them, and they're winning. In sports you might feel bad for your opponent if they fall apart on the field and get crushed, but you're not going to share your points with them, that'd be crazy. I doubt the super-rich view poor people as anything more than sore losers.
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at 21:02 on 19-02-2014, Tamara
"The 1% are being picked on for political reasons."

Oh, god, I fell down laughing from that one. What a completely bizarre, oblivious world view that could possibly allow a person to utter that sentence.
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at 20:30 on 19-02-2014, Robinson L
@Dan: Okay, that alone makes having slogged through that book a couple of years ago worthwhile.

Adrienne: She's way too good for both of them, being the only character with any actual brains in the whole series as far as I can tell.

Even though she's now completely turned off Potter, I'm pretty sure ptolemaeus still has a major soft spot for Hermione. (I think she may still be a H/H shipper, though.)


Arthur: US high society: it's fraternities all the way down.

Hands up, everyone who's not surprised *raises hand*. Great article, Arthur, thanks for sharing.
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at 14:27 on 19-02-2014, Dan H
but the picture of some two old boys who went through boarding school together and are now some über-paramilitary police force bureaucrats sounds a bit sinister


Sinister ... but possibly also *completely awesome*?

"There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of magic. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Neville — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of casting the cruciatus curse on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a wand pointing at a human face — forever."
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at 12:28 on 19-02-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
Tamara: Yes, I seem to have written it out a bit wrong. The reason or the cause of the boom was no doubt the general boom that can be noticed after the war in several countries. People resuming lives interrupted by the war and all that. That the finnish government tried to encourage it also happened, but what influence this had is usually just assumed, but probably this policy didn't cause it as such.

On contemporary policies, I have read it argued, that generous maternal and parental leave legislation, which gives people the support and opportunity to keep a hold of their job and thus resume their career after the children are larger is behind the relatively stable demographics in the Nordic countries as opposed to Italy for example and Russia, which both suffer from migration as well.

On the Potter thing, the problem does seem to be this weird mixture of childish and serious. Like the matter of Harry and Ron becoming aurors and cleaning the ministry seems to try to be a gesture towards grown-up issues, but the picture of some two old boys who went through boarding school together and are now some über-paramilitary police force bureaucrats sounds a bit sinister, if one wants to be serious about it and childish, when you think that someone's adult life is just becoming something he wanted to become when he was eleven.
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at 08:34 on 19-02-2014, Arthur B
So in book canon, Lily and James had kids around the same time Lily and James did.

I think that's the case in movie-canon too.

But the wiki seems fairly convinced that James and Lily died when they were 21 and cites Half-Blood Prince as saying they got rush-married very soon after they graduated, so I think we do know when they marry.
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at 03:19 on 19-02-2014, Sister Magpie
Marrying someone you knew in school after you've had some years to go out and be an adult and stretch your wings and find yourself and all that jazz is a very different prospect from driving directly from graduation to the wedding chapel...



I suppose we could assume that about all of them since we don't know when they all marry. We get Lucius Malfoy's age in I think OotP and we know he was Prefect-age when MWPP, Lily and Snape started. Lucius wasn't much older than the Trio would have been in the epilogue. So in book canon, Lily and James had kids around the same time Lily and James did.
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at 01:30 on 19-02-2014, Arthur B
Would it really matter exactly when they did it? They meet and fall in love in high school and are together for the rest of their lives just like the protagonists who have kids going to Hogwarts 19 years after graduation.

Marrying someone you knew in school after you've had some years to go out and be an adult and stretch your wings and find yourself and all that jazz is a very different prospect from driving directly from graduation to the wedding chapel...
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at 01:29 on 19-02-2014, Arthur B
US high society: it's fraternities all the way down.
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at 00:57 on 19-02-2014, Sister Magpie
To be fair, I don't remember (but might be forgetting) any suggestion in the early books that James and Lily married immediately on graduating from Hogwarts. It'd make sense that they met there, of course, because so far as I can tell it's the only wizarding school in the UK so if two British wizards happen to marry and are close to each other in age they probably were at Hogwarts at the same time. But there's scope in the early books, before the chronology got more tightly nailed down, that there may have been a substantial gap between them graduating Hogwarts and them getting married and having Harry.


Would it really matter exactly when they did it? They meet and fall in love in high school and are together for the rest of their lives just like the protagonists who have kids going to Hogwarts 19 years after graduation.
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at 19:49 on 18-02-2014, Tamara
I don't know the details in Finland, but i'm a little skeptical of that narrative. Engineering a baby-boom is incredibly difficult. Iran and Russia, amongst others, are trying very hard right now and it's not going too well. Tax breaks and cash don't hurt, per se, but if couples are set against having a child *now*, a tax break isn't going to do much to change their minds, at least that's what all the data i'm familiar with shows. Demographics, what little i've studied of it, seems to be a goofy field. The actual data tends to be obscure, and is often weirdly counterintuitive.
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at 17:24 on 18-02-2014, Janne Kirjasniemi
I guess the post-war boom is much better presented in statistics and is a thing in other places besides the US. And makes some sense too. Of course in Finland, the boom was a deliberate policy, families got significant tax breaks and even cold hard cash from the government for having children.
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at 13:29 on 18-02-2014, Tamara
A *little* - there was a marriage (and birth) boom BEFORE WW2 in the USA (it carried on after, taking a pause for the war.) It's doubtful that it quite matches the image of couples desperately hooking up before he takes off to Germany or whathaveyou though, not statistically. More to do with cohort-wide labour force participation and other incredibly boring stuff.
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at 11:37 on 18-02-2014, Arthur B
I think it was meant to be reminiscent of couples rushing to get married at the start of World War II before the man gets called up, which is a cultural motif which may or may not have any basis in actual statistics.
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at 11:06 on 18-02-2014, Tamara
Demographically suspect though - wars and times of uncertainty tend to see people postponing marriage and childbirth. I know, I know, of all the things to nitpick, but still. Check out East German birthrates falling off a cliff in the early 90's, for example. http://www.berlin-institut.org/online-handbookdemography/east-germany.html
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at 10:10 on 18-02-2014, Arthur B
So... yeah, I'd chalk it up as the sort of thing that works fine in the early Potter books, but which falls apart in the latter half of the series.

And indeed I do find it much less jarring when it comes to Harry's parents in the early books than it is with Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione.

To be fair, I don't remember (but might be forgetting) any suggestion in the early books that James and Lily married immediately on graduating from Hogwarts. It'd make sense that they met there, of course, because so far as I can tell it's the only wizarding school in the UK so if two British wizards happen to marry and are close to each other in age they probably were at Hogwarts at the same time. But there's scope in the early books, before the chronology got more tightly nailed down, that there may have been a substantial gap between them graduating Hogwarts and them getting married and having Harry. (Indeed, the movies seemed to assume this earlier on in the process, casting actors for James and Lily who looked substantially older than 21.) But that isn't how it goes.

Supposedly, a lot of James and Lily's generation married soon after leaving Hogwarts because the First Wizarding War was kicking off and everyone was worried about the future and whether anyone would even survive. I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense, but equally it makes Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione's marriages even more bizarre because the threat of Voldemort was thorougly and permanently stamped out before they even left school - surely that'd mean there was no rush?
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at 05:09 on 18-02-2014, Adrienne
Heretical as it may be to say around here, I actually rather like today's XKCD.
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at 05:09 on 18-02-2014, Adrienne
Currently my fallen london name is just my Twitter handle, which is @adrienneleigh.
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at 03:35 on 18-02-2014, James D
Adrienne: what's your Fallen London name? I can send you stuff.
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at 02:26 on 18-02-2014, Daniel F
What gets me about the romantic outcomes of Potter is all these people who marry folk they met in secondary school.


I think that might be a conceit of the genre? In Harry Potter, everything important that ever happens to a person happens to them at high school. This is, of course, not terribly realistic, but it is the sort of thing that high school students - or even primary school students - tend to believe. Hogwarts is the centre of the world in the Potter series just as high school seems like the centre of the world while you're in it.

I'd put it in the same category as, say, Voldemort founding an evil cult and plotting to take over the world in year ten. Of course it's ridiculous, but it's the sort of ridiculousness that makes sense to the intended audience of the first two or three Potter books. I think Dan mentioned it in an old article: In a children's series set in a boarding school, you can accept the idea that the path to world domination begins in the sixth form.

Similarly, in a children's series set in a boarding school, I can accept that your high school girlfriend/boyfriend is the person you'll be with for the rest of your life. It's like that old punchline from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. "At sixteen, it's always true love."

So... yeah, I'd chalk it up as the sort of thing that works fine in the early Potter books, but which falls apart in the latter half of the series.
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at 00:12 on 18-02-2014, Ash
@Adrienne
I am Sycorax in Fallen London, a midnight, sinister and sagacious individual of mysterious and indistinct gender, and apparently the Lilac Lady hates me. I haven't sen her in ages!

I can't send you any gifts right now because I have do some grinding first, but I would be delighted to trade (non-Fate) gifts with you. Do you want anything in particular or should we just trade one of each?
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