What does Quirrellmort Want?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

On rereading Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality for the third time, I’m starting to figure out what really happened. Spoilers follow.


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.

#850 Evening Grosbeak

Monday, November 5th, 2012

2012 is looking like an irruptive winter. Two days ago I had the best day I’ve had in Prospect Park in years with a life bird and city-first-of-season White-winged Crossbill and Common Redpoll. But the birds are still coming in. Yesterday a pair of Evening Grosbeaks were reported in Central Park near the Great Hill, so before work I took the A-train uptown to look for them. Fortuitously I ran into Lenore Swenson who took me right to the birds. #850! and it’s extra fun to get a life bird so near home instead of traveling far and wide.

I don’t have any trips planned for the remainder of the year, except for Louisiana at Christmas, so I won’t make 900 in 2012; but all I need is one good neotropics trip to cross 900 or even 1000 in 2013. My brother and I are going to Costa Rica with New York Audubon for a week in February, and I should be able to squeeze in at least one more international trip somewhere. I just haven’t decided where yet.

#849 White-winged Crossbill on the first Park Day after Hurricane Sandy

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Wow! What a day! Best day in Prospect Park in years! After being cooped up for so long from Sandy and with all parks annoyingly closed, it was great to finally get out and there were birds everywhere! and great birds in great light! Perhaps I should have taken my camera, but I was just enjoying the pleasant weather and a relaxing walk through the woods.

It was an excellent fall day, but things really kicked up when I got to the Binnen Bridge near the Pagoda Swamp. A small bird, a House Finch? associating with a couple of American Goldfinches hopped down onto the falls, and then the bird popped up into a nearby sapling.