The Problem with the Quirrellmort Hypothesis

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Continuing to think about Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, the consensus hypothesis seems to be that:

Warning: spoilers follow:

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

I’ve just finished reading Eliezer Yudkowsky’s magnum opus Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, for the second time and it is amazing. Off the top of my head I think it’s the only novel I’ve read twice in one year, the first time because I couldn’t put it down, and the second time to find all the details I missed while eagerly following the story the first time. Like the Rowling canon, there’s a lot more depth here than you notice the first time through. It’s the only HP fanfic that I’ve found as compelling, maybe more compelling, than the original.

There are two ways I can think of to explain this story. The obvious one is that it’s an alternate history of the Potterverse in which Harry’s Aunt Petunia convinces her sister to magically make her beautiful. As a result instead of marrying Vernon Dursley, she marries physicist Michael Verres. Consequently instead of growing up in a closet under the stairs, Harry grows up as a doted-upon only child of way above average intelligence. But the more accurate description is a story in which Harry Potter is replaced by Ender Wiggin.

Warning: major spoilers follow.

Beijing Freedom and Security

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Reflecting back on my recent trip to Beijing (more on that still to come as I get time to write up my thoughts) one of the most striking things was the contrast between personal, day-to-day freedom in Beijing and the United States (especially NYC/Los Angeles/Orange County). I’m not talking about political representation or freedom to read whatever I felt like, but just the simple ability to go whereever I felt like going without being hassled. To my surprise, by that measure Beijing came off way better than the United States does these days, and that doesn’t speak well for the U.S.

Why Doesn’t John Updike have a Nobel Prize Yet?

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Can someone explain to me why John Updike doesn’t have the Nobel Prize yet? I just got around to reading Bech: A Book, and was once again transfixed by Updike’s command of the English language. There may well be authors in other languages who deserve the Nobel in Literature more than he does, but I can’t think of one still alive and writing in English.

The man’s pushing 80. He may not have that many years left. Can’t we get him one before it’s too late? Surely if Nobels can go to Saul Bellow and Toni Morrison, there’s room for an Updike?

Currently Not Reading

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

The Brooklyn Public Library allows unlimited renewals as long as no one requests a specific book. That means books tend to pile up in one’s living room since you never have time to read everything that’s worth reading. However, before moving to California next week I have to bring all these back. This is to remind myself what I still have to get to:

Kozol; Paratime; Mina; Globalization and Its Discontents; Confessions of a Casanova; Silent Bob Speaks; Consider Phlebas

Harry Potter Pre-orders

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Amazon’s taking pre-orders for the final volume in Harry Potter septology. (Is that even a word?). It’s $18.89 + shipping. If I were Amazon I’d raise the price a few bucks and offer “free” overnight shipping. For myself, I’ll probably wait till a friend finishes it, and borrow their copy like I have for the last couple of volumes. Probably won’t take any longer than shipping anyway. :-)

Oh, and if you think Dumbledore’s really dead, can I talk to you about this bridge I have for sale down at the end of Adams Street? Cheap.