The Pipwick Papers

It seems that enough people liked the Pipwick Papers that I’ve been asked to do it again. Here are a selection of links to writing, pictures and video which exist outside the realms of games journalism. Think of me as a social media slug, slithering through your letterbox in the dead of night and sliming links all over your hallway carpet.

Again, it’s not instead of The Sunday Papers, it’s just different.

  • The New Scientist puts forward a case for lilac and turquoise to be inducted into the list of basic colours (plus you can take part in the ongoing study yourself).
  • A selection of beautiful swamp pictures taken by Jessica Hines.
  • Here’s the trailer for the Daredevil reboot:

  • The Telegraph has this about a plagiarism row over an image taken from the same angle by two different people. I say “row” because that’s the language the article uses, but one party was more belligerent than the other.

    “It’s a bizarre coincidence and I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often,” said Scurr. “You’ve got hundreds of people staring at landmarks or landscapes, all taking the same picture on their smartphone or camera.”

  • The New Yorker’s Alice Gregory on text messages as a lifeline (trigger warnings for abuse).
  • Genetic thievery allows sea slugs to steal the ability to photosynthesise from algae. It’s a process called kleptoplasty and you can read about it on io9 thanks to George Dvorsky. The full study is here.
  • Jezabel’s Madeleine Davies on the need for caution in light of the new Harper Lee novel announcement. The piece is basically about Lee’s own reticence with regard to the public eye and her potential vulnerabilty now her sister and lawyer has died.

    she was the protector who shielded Harper Lee from the publishing world and press attention that she was so adamently repelled by. But now Alice – her Atticus – is gone and an unhealthy and unstable Lee must alone face the publishers, interviewers and literary agents that she’s spent her entire life avoiding.

  • Uncube features the stunning work of Aki Inomata whose work comments on national identity shifts through sculpted hermit crab shells.

    “It seems that the bodies of the crabs don’t identify them but rather the shelters identify them, like one’s country or property does.”

  • Are young women linguistic superheroes, a kind of vanguard of language change?” asks peripatetic linguist, Chi Luu in Daily Jstor. This one will be of particular interest if you listened to last week’s This American Life which covered people’s anxieties about vocal fry.

    1. Morlock says:

      Cool. Now all we need is a unique Pipwick Papers title image.

      Thanks Pip!

    2. Serenegoose says:

      Of course it’s sea slugs up to genetic hijinks. of course it is.

      As for the vocal fry thing. First it was women being mocked for uptalk. Now they talk down, and are being mocked for that too. Did someone hear the term ‘tone police’ and take it more literally?

      • Morlock says:

        I knew that uptalk was frowned upon, but did not know about the reactions to vocal fry (mind you that I live in London but am a non-native speaker). I actually like the vocal fry. I think that Danielle Riendeau from Idle Thumbs often talks like this. Noam Chomsky does it too.

        • Baggypants says:

          uptalk, talkdown, reaconts and vocal fry. I’m not familiar with any of these phrases.. I feel like I’ve walked in on a subculture and trod on something I wasn’t supposed to.

          • Monggerel says:

            Yeah. I… don’t understand anything of this? I mean… yeah, those sure is some voice noises them people makes?

            • Serenegoose says:

              Uptalk is when you make everything sound like a question??? Downtalk/vocal fry, is like, chuh, when you sound totally disinterested in everything. Like, whatever, man.

    3. Wulfram says:

      If you deliberately created an identical photograph by getting the same angles etc, would that be plagiarism?

      • LTK says:

        Compare it to shooting a movie, using the same set, actors, script and lighting. That would certainly be. If it’s a natural scene, I don’t think you can make that stick. Short of actually taking the photo in a short time window afterwards, the image would almost certainly be different. Unless you consider landmarks like Stonehenge, if you happen to take a picture there from the same angle, the same sun position and the same weather, you’d be called an idiot if you called that plagiarism.

      • LionsPhil says:

        We could solve this by using computer vision techniques to enforce a maximum similarity metric, combined with a central database of photography all images must be submitted to, e.g. a cloud service. If your photograph is too similar to a previous one, licensing fees are automatically charged.

        We’ll want to ensure that all digital photography equipment is configured to submit photos to such a system rather than being on legacy local storage where intellectual property rights cannot be protected, but thankfully cameraphones are well ahead of us there.

        • Koozer says:

          Cue computer scientists generating millions of images to match common framing, composition and colour space and making millions!

          (yeah I know it’s not that simple)

      • pepperfez says:

        Pierre Menard, Photographer of “The Pipwick Papers” Header Image

    4. letoeb says:

      I love the uptalk and vocal fry piece. Does anybody else feel like uptalk is not only a subtle way of conveying “You following me?”, but can deliberately imply a sense of humility, too. That’s at least how a lot of the things Chris Franklin (of Errant Signal fame) talks in unscripted podcasts and writes on Twitter – there’s a lot of quotational likes and even written questions marks implying uptalk that feel like he’s saying “Here’s what I’m thinking, and though I’m quite certain I’m right, there is a very real sense that I’m actually wrong.” I like it, and not only when/because he’s doing it. (Yes, I’m sort of a fan)

      Anybody else getting that vibe?

      (And yes, I’m aware how problematic it is to use a man as my defining example here, and I can only hope it’s just because the contrast is so stark here.)

      • cannonballsimp says:

        I actually did a MA in linguistics, looking at similar things. I suspect that uptalk, because it resembles the rising intonation of a question, is supposed to “trick” (unconsciously of course) the hearer into responding and thereby revealing their attitude toward what the speaker is saying. So it could be an expression of insecurity, but it could also be a subtle and sophisticated means of exposing the hearer’s attitude!

      • LordOfPain says:

        The column is actually pretty shallow and misleading. She says women using vocal fry are less likely to get a job, yet the study involved people reacting to only 7 men and 7 women speaking, and women reacted more negatively to women using vocal fry than men. She then says that it’s clearly sexist but refers to only one article for support. Moreover, the article, written by two female researchers, proposes that there is a ‘female tendency to lead innovation’ (they rely on using one model and also state that ‘there is no absolute contrast between men and women with respect to incrementation’).
        She would have been more honest in presenting it as an opinion piece rather than anything factual.

    5. FluffyHyena says:

      Genetic Thievery! Now that sounds like an interesting game starring Pip the slug :)
      Thanks Pip for the link sliming!

    6. turth says:

      i want sunday papers back, no offence to pip.

      EDIT: i just realized how i messed up with the above comment.

      i remembered where I was so I changed the “s” in offense to a “c”. Wont happen again folks, promise!

      • LionsPhil says:

        Scroll down (or click the link)—this weekend, we have both.

        • thedosbox says:

          Yeah, I’m happy that we’re getting both. More reading material on a snowed in Sunday is good.

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        Philippa Warr says:

        The Sunday Papers was published three hours prior to this and has been on the front page ever since. There is also a link to it in the part of this article where I explain that this is not The Sunday Papers.

        • Martel says:

          Kinda get the vibe that turth saw the title and immediately posted his/her disappointment without reading it nor looking at the rest of the site to see that Sunday Papers was already posted…..long before this one.

      • Rikard Peterson says:

        My first reaction was (partly) the same as yours: A slight disappointment that there would be no regular papers this week either. But then when I (before posting, and even long before reaching the comment section – yay me!) realised that it this week is not a substitution for the regular papers, but a companion cube piece, my slight disappointment turned into joy and appreciation.

        So, thanks for this, RPS and Pip!

    7. GameCat says:

      Wow, that Harper Lee story is kinda sad. I was excited when I’ve heard that she is publishing next book, but I didn’t bother to read any details about it.

      Also, I want Pip Papers (Pipers?) to be a regular thing.

      • RARARA says:

        The Pipwick Papers is already a great name (a wordplay on The Pickwick Papers).

        • April March says:

          She should go even further! The Pipweek Papers!

          Because Pip posts what she found interesting this week!

          Ha ha!

          Also I mantain my position that RPS’ers should all take a crack at the papers, but not all at once, dammit.

          • RARARA says:

            Or even further! Peepweek Papers! Where we take a peep into this week’s interesting writings posted by Pip! Ha!

    8. RARARA says:

      Those are some gorgeous swamps.

      Oh, and if anyone’s curious about solar powered animals besides the sea slug, there is the Spotted Salamander capable of photosynthesis and the Oriental Hornet that has solar panels on its cuticles to convert sunlight into electricity.

    9. Borodin says:

      “Think of me as a social media slug, slithering through your letterbox in the dead of night and sliming links all over your hallway carpet.”

      Oh it was you! To be honest I thought you must be coming in under the door. Please would you clean up after yourself next time?

    10. Dorga says:

      Thanks Pip

    11. Peptidix says:

      Thanks for another interesting selection.

    12. Muzman says:

      Ms Pip. A little while ago you related a story about, I think, the Tate’s efforts to reinterpret other works of art in Minecraft. And how one of these efforts was so distressingly wrong it made you cry.

      Have you written this up anywhere, with perhaps some more about the original painting?

      • Jackablade says:

        It’s covered fairly extensively in episode 70 of the Crate and Crowbar, on the off chance that that isn’t where you heard it initially.

        • Muzman says:

          That is where I got it from yeah. The discussion is good but I ended wanting to know more about the original painting and how she felt about it. The conversation teases a little that what the minecraft artiste saw in it might have been pretty much the experience she got (although probably not the tears of art lover despair as a goal). I was curious to hear a bit more on the painting side of things.
          It might make an interesting article on interpretation or something.

          • YogSo says:

            Ah, I thought you were referring to a certain post that Pip published here a while ago, so I didn’t bother linking to it before, but I see now that you were talking about something else, so here it is, in case you missed it back then: Gallery Trip: Tate Worlds’ Minecraft Map.

            • Muzman says:

              Yeah, that’s what I was expecting to find. Don’t know how I didn’t. Cheers
              (Still could use more art-crit. But that’s just me. Also: games website)

    13. Robert Post's Child says:

      Re: Daredevil, I’m still a little bummed we never got that canonically-appropriate throwback 70’s version, the pitch reel for which got leaked a year or so ago. Especially with the success of Agent Carter (which I haven’t seen yet but seems to be doing well) Marvel could totally go for fleshing out all the weird fake period piece stuff. Right now that trailer just makes it kinda look like Arrow 2.0.

      Although clearly somebody needs to put together a series on SuperSlug. Photosynthesis by day, Justice by night!

      • YogSo says:

        I hadn’t heard about that 70s Daredevil concept before, but it sounds like a really great idea. That said, I think that Netflix trailer has a lot of Miller’s/Romita Jr’s “The Man Without Fear” in it, which I also approve of.

        • jonahcutter says:

          Here’s what Robert Post’s Child is talking about:

          It’s a real shame it was never made. It’s the best super-hero, film-related piece I’ve seen yet, imo. If Joe Carnahan could of pulled off a movie approximating that sizzle reel, it would of really been something.

          • YogSo says:

            Ohh, that’s awesome, yeah. I can easily picture the Heroes for Hire or even Sang-Chi having little cameos and feeling totally in place, tonally-wise.

    14. Frank says:

      Good stuff!

      By the way, Pip, this is the only correctly embedded video I’ve seen on RPS in the past year. Please teach your cohorts how to do that! Every other video (from Youtube, Kickstarter, etc.) has been missing its “full screen” button.

    15. onionman says:

      The available scientific evidence indicates that “trigger warnings” literally make people’s PTSD worse, exacerbating the avoidance problem.

      • ffordesoon says:

        Huh. That’s interesting. Source?

        • onionman says:

          This is a helpful overview written by a Harvard professor of psychology. It includes a reference to this 2008 study, which he characterizes in the following terms:

          “Trigger warnings are designed to help survivors avoid reminders of their trauma, thereby preventing emotional discomfort. Yet avoidance reinforces PTSD. Conversely, systematic exposure to triggers and the memories they provoke is the most effective means of overcoming the disorder. According to a rigorous analysis by the Institute of Medicine, exposure therapy is the most efficacious treatment for PTSD, especially in civilians who have suffered trauma such as sexual assault. For example, prolonged exposure therapy, the cognitive behavioral treatment pioneered by clinical psychologists Edna B. Foa and Barbara O. Rothbaum, entails having clients close their eyes and recount their trauma in the first-person present tense. After repeated imaginal relivings, most clients experience significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as traumatic memories lose their capacity to cause emotional distress. Working with their therapists, clients devise a hierarchy of progressively more challenging trigger situations that they may confront in everyday life. By practicing confronting these triggers, clients learn that fear subsides, enabling them to reclaim their lives and conquer PTSD.”

          • Karrius says:

            The thing is, that’s specifically talking about CONTROLLED exposure and stuff. And it also seems to have cause and effect completely unaccounted for – “People who have bad PTSD have it as part of their identity, thus having it as their identity has worsened the PTSD” – you don’t need a study to see the logic doesn’t quite hold up there.

            • onionman says:

              Well yes it’s talking about controlled exposure, but the point is that limiting exposure in and of itself doesn’t do anything helpful, since one of the hallmarks of PTSD is avoidance of situations that bear similarity to the trauma. The problem is that avoidance exacerbates the condition. In other words, there is an important difference between deliberately provoking someone who has combat-related PTSD, and taking care to make sure that that person never hears e.g. fireworks going off. “Trigger warnings” are a variation on the latter.

              As for your second point, I’m not quite clear on what you’re trying to say is the logical mistake. It’s a well-established result in studies of clinical depression that self-identification with MDD makes the MDD worse, so it’s not a stretch to see how the same would hold true for PTSD (or any related mood/anxiety disorder).

            • Karrius says:

              Is it that self-identification makes it worse, or is it that people who have it worse self-identify? I do not identify as someone who’s missing an arm, because I’m NOT missing an arm. But if you tell someone who’s missing an arm that if they’d just stop acknowledging their missing arm, and it would grow back, well, you’d sound utterly ridiculous, wouldn’t you? What is the proof that “Self identification causes it (whatever it may be) to be worse” and NOT “People who have it worse tend to self identify”

            • Karrius says:

              Also, I’m not sure how an article that states “You should consider that not everyone who’s suffered abuse is then triggered” can at all be taken for a reason to not use them? Like, sure, only 10% of the people want them or whatever, but why not do it for those 10%? The majority of people in the world don’t read RPS, so we’re just going to delete the site now – why bother?

          • jangove says:

            I have PTSD[1] (have really all my life; I was 35 until I realized hyper-vigilance[2] isn’t normal; until then I just thought everyone around me was incredibly rude). And that is certainly my experience of it. Trigger warnings piss me off on a number of levels. One is they almost never speak to things that are actually cause someone to re-experience trauma -cold peas, the sound of a door slamming, certain postures, other things. For me. Reminders, the things that take you back, are random and personal and unknowable and incredibly mutable. And it does encourage avoidance, because it is an encouragement of avoidance. And it seems to me to have built this culture where somehow people want to claim the label of suffering from PTSD and so elevate minor trauma and difficulties into an excuse to complain about how they weren’t warned that this article was going to acknowledge the existence of child abuse, or that one mentioned sometimes people are murdered. Not graphic depictions, not detailed, just “so and so was subjected to sexual and physical abuse”. You see people like that in support groups, sometimes, derailing the whole enterprise with their need for… validation? status? I understand it better in online forums, where it can sometimes become a kind of one-upmanship in argument, a way of trying to exert control through victim hood. And finally, I feel that lots of them (I’m not speaking to this one; I haven’t read the article to know the contents) are this kind of self-satisfied attempt on the part of the writer to show how brave they are in forthrightly addressing themselves to unpleasant subjects married to a desperate desire for praise over their sensitivity. (And, AGAIN! I haven’t read the article; I am in no way shape or form indicting Pip, but rather speaking more generally. While I hate the term trigger warning, it may well be that people — not trauma people, just people — would find it disturbing. But SAY THAT. That is manages to be useful without being condescending).

            Having gotten that off my chest, there is a place for warning readers that content may be disturbing, to children, to adults, to anyone. As I write that, I think that maybe it gets at the heart of my complaint: if you are disturbed by something, or thing others will, go ahead. But don’t wrap it up in concern for me, as a goddamn precious delicate flower. Own it yourself; that is fine. That is helpful. But don’t pretend that you are helping those of us with a genuine, specific, problem[3]. You don’t know me nearly well enough to usefully protect me, even if I wanted protection. Stop flattering yourself by trying.

            Or maybe I don’t know anything. But trigger warnings bug the fuck out of me. They never help.

            [1]To incidents, one of which can be described as “my entire childhood and adolescence” –my mother is an unpleasant person with a number of then untreated mental health issues — and another that was more acute, wherein I was held against me will and tortured for about twelve hours. I learned a great deal from that (you wouldn’t think it, but waiting to be killed is, after a while, astoundingly boring, even as that hard to describe melange or terror and grief and shame and desperate, unbearable loneliness doesn’t go really leave you. Despite these insights, I find that in the end I cannot commend either experience to others, however.

            [2]Although hyper-vigilance has its upsides: I can always find the exits, and I can perform all kinds of cool super cool action-movie-hero-esqu I don’t have to look at you to know what you are doing parlor tricks. I also rarely miss my bus stop, and don’t hold people up in the grocery isles because I can’t figure out that there are other people around me. So, you know. Not all downsides.

            [3]This is as good a time as any to give a quick little PSA: PTSD affects roughly six-to-eight percent of people who experience serious trauma, not all of which is violent trauma. It has explicit and specific diagnostic criteria. It is a real thing, and it isn’t like the movies and it isn’t like TV. At all. For anyone. I would encourage people to read this article on link to It isn’t perfect, but it is worth a look.

            • onionman says:

              Thanks for sharing. I was reluctant to mention it, but I was also diagnosed and treated for PTSD, also in relation to what I would describe as “my entire childhood and adolescence,” also also with respect to my mother who is a very unpleasant person with many untreated mental problems, though fortunately I never had to deal with anything remotely like your second experience.

              I don’t think Pip was using trigger warnings in quite the way you describe (though I have seen it used that way), so much as she seemed to be buying into their ideological–as expressly opposed to therapeutic–use. Which is why I bothered to bring it up: using “trigger warnings” in that way doesn’t actually help anyone with PTSD, it just signals alignment with a particular political agenda. Back when I was still in the throes of abuse-related PTSD it would have done me absolutely no harm to encounter descriptions of abuse in an article, while on the contrary avoiding them because of a “trigger warning” would, according to the studies I mentioned, have actually made the condition worse. So I agree with you that there is a time and a place for content warnings, but please let’s drop the pretense that this is about people with PTSD.

              And yes, as someone who has had to deal with clinical PTSD, it is quite offensive to see the concept of “trigger” reduced to “something that makes me feel bad.” That’s just not what it is, and while I appreciate that it can be unsettling to encounter racism or sexism or whatever, that’s just not the same thing as PTSD.

    16. celticdr says:

      Another good read Pip, thanks!