Archive for June, 2009

Harry Potter and the Extended Magical World

June 30, 2009

I cannot say where these two piece fell from. My mind does things like this now and then.

Content warnings: Harry Potter, religion, blasphemy, speculation, big flaming chunks o’  info dump, good fun.

* * *

first iteration

“Funny I never thought about it”, Ron muttered gloomily.

Hermione sniffed. “Well, it was there on the fifth page of Hogwarts: A History; am I to be blamed for you never reading it?”

Harry was still gaping and gasping like a beached whale — a small, pale and black-haired whale with a lightning scar on its forehead, but somewhat beached anyway — so Ron had to speak for him. “Er, Hermione, are you sure?”

“Look here yourself. Or better still, Loqualibris!

The book shook for a while, and then a droning voice, not unlike that of Professor Binns, rose from it, mumbling its way through the paragraph in question.

“As is well known, the four founders of Hogwarts based their school, and thus the magickal powers of all Britain, on an alliance with the Dark God Sathanas, who would cause wizards and witches come forth from each generation as long as the school and the attendant wizarding world was kept secret, and certain devotions were served by the Headmaster. (see the chapter ‘Why you really should pass your N.E.W.T.s’ for more.) This, and similar blood alliances — such as that of Beauxbatons with Lucia de Fer, Durmstrang with Bub Ba’alze and Helsingin Yliopisto with the Devil of Maksalaatikko — are the source of all wizarding power in Europe.”

Harry whimpered.

“It’s just a question of perspective, Harry”, Hermione said coolly. “You know what they say about witches and wizards among the Muggles — among those that don’t think we’re silly imaginations. They think we’re evil, but we’re really not. They’re just mistaken about Our Lord Satan.”

* * *

second iteration

“What, another new subject?” Ron groaned. “How do you have enough time?”

“I dropped Ancient Runes”, Hermione muttered, trying to catch a silver-covered book that, for some reason, kept flapping around her head.

“What?” Harry choked. Hermione never backed away from anything.

“It was nice, but didn’t tie with what I really want to do. I want to — aha!” She leaped and caught the book with both hands, then screamed as it dragged her half a feet and both feet off the ground. “I want to work in the Ministry of Magic, Harry! There are so many things wrong about it! Librisomna!

She and the paralyzed book fell to an untidy pile on the floor. The book was the first to stir; a picture of an elderly wizard, strikingly handsome, with glasses and short white hair, winked at Harry from the back cover.

“That can’t be it”, Ron yawned. “You want to know everything. Doesn’t matter if it’s of any use.”

He got a sniff in answer, as Hermione tied a strap around the again buckling silver tome. “And, of course, it was either Ancient Runes or Philosophy of Magic and Muggles; they’re scheduled at the same time. I can take Ancient Runes next year, but Ph-o-M-a-M is this year only! And they have a Twinner teaching it!”

Ron groaned and, with a flick of his wand, sent a constellation of Chocolate Frog cards floating above him. An ugly gap indicated the place where several were missing.

“What’s a twinner?” Harry asked.

“A Twinner”, she said, with a smile, “is someone who lives in both worlds: someone who is both an active wizard or witch, and an active Muggle.”

“Huh? I’m in both worlds, too”, Harry blurted.

“No you’re not. You barely have any— sorry, you barely visit anyone who isn’t of the wizarding world anymore. Who do you have, those awful Dursleys? In ten years you might as well petition the Ministry to have your name Faded; then no-one in the Muggle world will know you ever existed.”

“Faded? That’s what they did to Grindelwald, right?” Ron muttered.

“That’s different”, Hermione said with a wave of her hand. “He was a Twinner, but he wasn’t Faded… well, not voluntarily anyway. He became so influential and evil in the Muggle world by using magic that they had to remove him finally before they could fight him — but because you can’t remove someone so big totally they brought this real Muggle in to, er, to replace him in everyone’s memories and in all the documents. Good thing too; if they hadn’t done that in 1942, Grindelwald and his Black Company might have killed every single witch and wizard in Europe, and who knows how many Muggles on the side.”

“Wait”, Harry exclaimed. “You mean Grindelwald was, er, or was replaced by A—”

“As I was saying”, Hermione said, “A Twinner is someone who is known to many in both worlds: you’re not a Twinner, Harry, because hardly anyone knows you in the Muggle world. I’m not a Twinner either, because you could count the people who know me with the fingers of two hands: my parents, a few neighbors, maybe a kindergarten teacher. Twinners are famous magical strongly Mugglelike wizards!”

“Isn’t that — well, you mean they use magic to get famous?”

“No!” Hermione moaned. “Didn’t you listen? After Grindelwald the law’s been really strict about Twinners. They are no more allowed to use magic among Muggles than Hogwarts students are. The International Confederation of Warlocks’ Statute of Secrecy, section 13, remember? And the Improper Use of Magic Office will do them a lot worse than expulsion — they can end up in Azkaban!”

“Oh, wow”, Ron drawled absentmindedly, still enthralled by his swirling cloud of famous wizard cards. “Hey. Where’s my Witch of Endor? Hermione, if this is that cat of yours again…”

“Half-kneazle, half-cat”, Hermione muttered, then continued at Harry. “Anyway, Philosophy of Magic and Muggles is taught by a legend!”

“What is Philosophy of This and That anyway?” Harry asked.

“Oh, it’s the most interesting thing! It’s philosophy done properly; with the knowledge that witches and wizards exist. That explains so many dumb things about the Muggle world. Like how they have all these tales about these magical men and women — just legends from the time before the International Statute of Secrecy.”

Ron groaned. “Speaking of that, Harry, do you have a Moses in your cards? Mine is missing again. I tell you it’s not funny he goes exodus-ing every time I take my eyes off him.”

Hermione continued without an interruption. “And homeopathy — that’s just tap water and the Gullibilusmoronis charm. The Ministry ought to put a stop to that. Or how Muggles have all these miracles, religions and Acts-of-God — what’s not simple delusion, is some witch having fun with them. Risky stupid business that should not be allowed; the Professor says so too.”

“Professor who?”, Harry asked.

“Well, Professor Dawkins, the new Philosophy of Magic and Muggles Professor, of course! You should read this book, Harry” — and Hermione thrust the silver-covered book at him; the cover had something Delusion in big, confident letters — “it’s got three chapters not in the Muggle version especially for the wizarding world!”

“Big pernicious deal”, Ron muttered. “Someone’s stolen my Jesus of Nazareth, Harry. Do you know how difficult that was to get? Everyone hangs to their copy of that wizard like it’s some ruddy Merlin.”

* * *

In closing I wish to note this is the first piece of HP “fan-fiction” I have written, and I have no plans for more.

Well, except a steamy, novel-lenth piece about just what was meant by Aberforth Dumbledore “performing inappropriate charms” on a goat.

Er, the Internet being what it is — just kidding. Someone no doubt has done that already.

Edit: Also, just in case, and just for the neurotic ones, a disclaimer: I don’t own Harry or any of the associated names, characters and concepts. J. K. Rowling, Warner Bros. and similar other instances do. This is just (highly eccentric) fan fiction. Suing me would be utterly futile as I have no money at all.

Oh their God

June 29, 2009

From CNN:

“You homosexual demon, get up on outta here!” they say. “You demon, loose yourself!” “You sex demon … you snake!”

Relevant details:

  • “Bridgeport, Connecticut”
  • “Patricia McKinney, pastor of the nondenominational church who describes herself as a prophet, said she […] doesn’t understand the outrage.”
  • “‘We allow [gay people] to come into our church. We just don’t allow them to come in and continue to live that lifestyle,’ she said.”
  • “The shouts, the convulsions, the references to homosexual spirits — they are all captured on a video posted on YouTube by the Manifested Glory Ministries.”
  • “He’s 16 and having the feelings that he’s having, the relationships he’s having, and then [he’s] being tormented by ‘What if I’m going to go to hell because of what I feel and who I am?'” [a sensible person] said.

Nice work, believers.

Note that the reason for pointing out things like this isn’t any silly model of “Hey, I have observed a repugnant religious person — hence and logically irrefutably all religions are evil-bad and there ain’t no God!”

This is not a part of the basic theistic/atheistic argument (“Is there a God, souls, Heavens, etc.?”) either, not beyond the point of “Explain why any god other than Loki would be a better explanation for this slowly shifting so very human morass of opinions, please.”

No, this is one of the basics of the second question, “Regardless of it being true or false, is religion good for you/your neighbor/the society, etc.?”, namely “Is it useful, good and nice to have a millennia-old kaleidoscope book of human guesses, and attendant explanations, as your moral compass? And is that your final answer?”

(The religious formulation of that last question is, actually, “It is useful, good and nice to revere a venerable, again and again re-interpreted collection of sacral traditions of man’s attempts to reach beyond himself and above himself as your moral compass, instead of blindly relying on the fallible intuitions of the fallible modern people who, as you well know, make fallible mistakes; so here’s Frankie Navelgazer channeling Moses on GMOs!”)

(Well, had Moses ever existed, his opinion on GMOs would have most probably been overwhelmingly positive; look here for the horror that is a wild, unbred and undomesticated banana. Quite all “natural” crops and domestic animals are like nothing that’s found wild in nature. Modern GMOs are just continuing the same fiddling with more exact means.)

Go sacral

June 28, 2009

Given how vulnerable people seem to be to dumb things done under the umbrella of religion, the world will be doomed the day someone hits on the idea of calling Adolf Hitler a god; neo-Nazis will then be given religious exceptions to their idiocies left and right. (As for those who think comparing the Word of God to the psychotic ravings of a delusional racist is a bit far: er, have you read the Bible on the Amalekite genocide? A nice uplifting bit of fiction, that!)

But are there maybe other institutions that might benefit from going sacral?

* * *

“Ahh, the Holy Blue Screen of Death. It is a mystery you mortals are not meant to understand. Do not fret; Gates always answers, but at times the answer is ‘No’. May you always find gates and windows where ye need them, amen. Thank you for calling Holy Microsoft Support.”

* * *

“A fatwah on Microsoft! A fatwah! I have iSpoken!”

* * *

“Hey, you! You drunken and disorderly little — er, sorry, sir. Did not notice you were of the Church of Mixed Drugs and Booze. Carry on as you were, brother. And dang I wish I could afford your prayer offerings and join.”

* * *

“My personal religious convictions bar me from wearing naught but shorts and a floral shirt.”

“That is impossible; it is grossly disrespectful and insulting to handle a Nokia sacraphone without wearing an Official Nokia-Brand Ad T-Shirt. Here, have two.”

* * *

“Dear new employees, welcome to Pigcorp. As you know, we have a few mandatory religious rules for our members, our receivers of the sacred paycheck — first, women don’t wear pants while on the premises.”

“What? Is this that stupid lust-arousal thing again?”

“Nor do they wear skirts.”

“What? Dear god, it’s that, isn’t it?”

“Nor dresses. Nor cover their legs in any way. It is the will of our august CEO and Prophet, Augustus von Lecherstein.”

* * *

“So, does your company have a healthcare plan?”

“We don’t believe in sicknesses. They are but illusions created by lack of work.”

* * *

“No, of course we aren’t moving the factory to China! It’s going to Factory Heaven! I am sure our former employees do not set their mundane personal preferences higher than their collective wish to see their factory Ascending! Amen!

* * *

“Hey, Greg. Make sure we have donuts for the prayer meeting, and anoint the overhead projector. And make sure Jeff, that filthy amanagerist, doesn’t show up.”

“Actually, I think he prefers to be called a dysmanagerist. Which, and may the merciful CEO not strike me down for this, does not at times seem such a stretch. It is hard to think Daddy Rob is a perfect instrument of the CEO’s will and purpose.”

“Shh — the Human Resources Office has ears everywhere, and their zeal in hunting suspected Dilbert-worshippers cannot be exaggerated.”

John is safe; are you?

June 27, 2009

Well, there’s my religion: a Lovecraft chick tract. (I suppose a lower-case “chick” is better when the term’s used in such generic fashion, like xerox/Xerox.)

And to quote that eternal fount of babbling wisdom, me myself, from long ago:

[T]he Lovecraftian vision of men as inconsequential gnats at the feet of cosmic intelligences and urges like gods to us, and towards us wholly indifferent rather than malign — well, that vision is to me a lot better than one of us as a fearful choir for some sadomasochistic dictator of Heaven and Earth, which I understand to be the standard Christian position.

Indeed: indifference would be a better choice than invasive tyranny — but now I’m off to scribble something like “The Old Ones are a dream. They do not exist. I have seen them, but that phrensy by the cenotaph was a mere cresset-lit phantasy — good Ghod! It is behind the window! The window! There is no escape aaargh gargh not the balls glurgle uff.”

(First seen on Pharyngula.)

Last day before the summer vacation

June 26, 2009

Well, university business is done for now, and I’m off to prance around on the summer pastures move a few hundred kilometers deepforestward, to sauna, cola and a good book, repeated quite a few times. Here’s some Turisas for you.

Expect an update about mosquitoes, stir-craziness and menacing albino cows (“The teeth! The teeth!“) within the next 48 hours.

If Turisas was not enough, here’s some equally festive Finntroll for ya. Whether I’ll look like a member of either band by the second week… remains to be seen.

Transformers 2 was very, very good

June 25, 2009

Just came from seeing a movie. It was better than this new Star Trek movie; it was better than Angels & Demons and Coraline, both of which I saw this week, and both of which were actually in my opinion very good movies.

And oh, boy, this movie of today was good beyond any of those others. And its name was Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

(A pause is inserted here for you to mutter: “You pulling me leg? You pulling me leg, boy? It admits now and it doesn’t get hurt, okay? Okay?“)

Er, I am not being sarcastic or trying to make some funny point; and I stop to clarify this simply because this is a sequel to a movie about a toy franchise, and a pretty maligned and mocked movie already; hysterically and without any sense of humor or proportion if you ask me.

Well, I always speak the plain unvarnished truth for do I not say I do; and I myself personally say Transformers 2 was two and a half hours of fun, quite pure and expertly made entertaining fun. It was actually funny; cringe-funny and laugh-funny. It was exciting. It blew up half the world! It was brainless and foul-mouthed, yup, but purposefully so, and it gripped and took and rode and left you satisfied, and it was beautiful.

The various snobs are invited to consider fireworks, pure common shoot-up and blow-up fireworks: if they can be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing and worth praising even though they do not explode to pictures of Romeo and Juliet or quote motifs from Baudelaire, then might summer movies be an art form of their own, too? Because I think the analogue is apt, and I think too that there’s nothing lowly in two and a half hours of humor and things blowing up; Bayhem is an art the same as fireworks are and I just saw and fully enjoyed a masterpiece.

Penultimate day before the summer holiday

June 25, 2009

Prime Number Shitting Bear count (last number out of the derriere) for today c. 427 421; uptime 9 hours 13 minutes.

Now I’m going to see Transformers 2; should be nice after worktime three times the sleeptime of the last jag.

“My eyes! My eyes!” etc.

June 24, 2009

Phil Plait has a scary example of an often-forgotten fact:

This is why I tell people over and over again: you cannot trust what you see even with your own eyes. Your eyes are not cameras faithfully taking pictures of absolute truth of all that surrounds you. They have filters, and your brain has to interpret the jangled mess it gets fed. Colors are not what they appear, shapes are not what they appear (that zoomed image above is square, believe it or not), objects are not what they appear.

Go here and see what he’s talking about. It’s a prime example of the way sight, that seemingly so straightforward sense, can come and bite you in the hindquarters. As our hearing, touch, memory, pattern recognition and every way we fleshbeings cogite are similarly faulty, we need… science! …to not get fooled by others or ourselves.

Angels & Demons: a silly perspective

June 24, 2009

Just came from seeing Angels and Demons, the second Dan Brown filmatization.

I actually enjoyed it quite a lot; it was a very entertaining movie.

Well, entertaining since I knew the twist in the end, and thus found a very nice way of watching it.

(But a divider goes here because there’s that one twist in the film that will, in a youthful idiom, totally blow your mind if you know it in advance — so a divider here.) (more…)


June 24, 2009

Here’s a downer for your day: there is such a thing as a Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

It’s just as nasty as it sounds like: cat AIDS.

I guess it’s logical that there is such a thing, but… aw, heck. Of all animals (excepting cuddly homo sapiens females) I like cats the best; and I would like to have one as a pet if it wasn’t so inconvenient for both, me being a single in a city, and cats being regal creatures that need lots of space, preferably space without big hurtling-around steel things and bored children. A cat loose in a city would be courting trouble.

I will not even consider the image that flashed in my head of a bicycle helmet with a throne and straps for a cat atop it, or any other cat leash. Dogs I can understand; dogs don’t (to me) exactly radiate independence and intelligence (commence angry comments), but cats have quite the same dignity (or capability for injured pride) as we humans do; and as I’ve never heard of a sadomasochistically submissive kitten, I can see no way a leash on a cat could be anything but an insult, no matter how necessary it was.

Well, there are robo-cats, but they aren’t quite the same and, as in this video, they often seem like something that will go terribly wrong in the very near future, and then the title card “Cathouse Bloodbath” will drop into view.

Now, if all above didn’t disturb you enough, as an ending thought I provide this: cat AIDS and the word “cathouse” brought to my mind a certain awful idea — namely my ignorant thought of “would a cat in heat be calmed by an application of the opposite sex, and would an actual cathouse be illegal in places where human brothels are?” — which then led to even more disturbing depths, where I noticed Wikipedia has no article on “animal contraception”; and then I managed to pull out.

And yes, that last expression was chosen merely to round out the unexpected awfulness of this post.