Archive for July, 2011

What do you ewww

July 29, 2011

I’m not quite sure what this Google “What do you love?” site is, except it lets you input a word… almost any word, that is… and shows all kinds of things various Googlic inventions can offer to you, relating to that word. Videos, books, discussions, the like; there is a certain amount of fixed content in the results no matter the word. For example, the “Organize a debate” result seems to always contain “Where is the best place to find X?”, “What is the best thing about X?” and so on.

This is an outright invitation to horrible abuse, as I am sure you understand. For example:

Then, of course, there are the less obvious terms (do I want to click through on that?):

And results that might be art criticism:

And those where the auto-fill really should stay quiet:

(Heard of this on Boing Boing.)

Eris prophecy!

July 29, 2011

Someone had googled for “erris prophecies” and ended here; and while this may be some Erris I don’t know about, it might also mean Eris, the sweet and sour Goddess of Discord, on whose behalf I feel competent to lay down a prophecy or two.

Or rather to quote my own words from over on Mirrors of Eris, but a prophecy is obviously better if it is old already.

* * *

The Vision of H. Drocsid

or,
the Future Through The Past,
or,
the Apple-Tree All A-Fallen
UM SLEA OM
(Genuine Prophecy!)

I looked south, and saw the cone of an immense white mountain; and when its eye opened I cried and fell to my face; and there was cotton in my eyes.

I saw the cattle-driver fall down dead, and a righteous elephant rise from its ashes: but a shot rang out and in a theatre of tragedy the elephant fell; when it rose up it never was the same again. And I saw the elephant locked in a mortal fight with a braying ass that was praying, and I saw a shadow in the schoolhouse door, and a drinking-fountain divided against itself; and I was cast down to my face by the white mountain and I cried for succor.

Then came the green man of great gold who denied the Roman Foreman’s power, and was a king and the first among equals; and a man came back from Mexico and drove three steel hornets at the green denier, who by his denial had placated the waves; and waves unending sprang from his fall. Behind him was a man of the land of endless toil, the hungry first among those that count the numbers and twist the hands, the master of the gilded chamber; he did set the people of night free, for the second time, and then passed away.

A noxious man of sweat and vulgarity came to set the flower and the briefcase against each other, and the old against the young; and he rode the ringing of hysteria and reigned in infamy, signed the moon and held the hand of the king, until the floodport burst and he was strangled by the shadow of his own words.

Then came a small man, who saw the strife of tears ended in blood, and the noxious man fled beyond justice, and liberty made a pet of his and not the victor of nations; and he had a long life but is forgotten.

Then came the foe of rabbits, and the infamous lunatic; the sand-striker and the inhaler inhaled; then a lackwit fool stole the throne, and all was afoul with fear and blood; and then came the sign of contradiction alive, opposed to the tricorns and the bleeding of men. After him the first one shall come again, and shall excuseless cut down the nation’s tree, and the nation shall be no more.

Nothing will remain but the statue of the cauldron’s mouth, the lady of the burning needle-pair, the gift of the baguette, waiting for Nehemiah. A beam shall be set against a crossbeam, and one against the green moon; the bald-hairs shall rise, and fall, and there shall be a nemesis, ah, scuddered the hopes of men under the looming of the New Jerusalem.

The stern-faced bitch reforged and tricolor-hued will reign over the huddled masses, and cheat them of their yearning; and she shall be crowned with crosses and bars and stars, and bear a torch in one hand and the tablets of the mosaic punishment in the other; and rising from the waters in front of her a bleak stab of steel will come up to her knees, black and terrible, to remind people that a firebrand’s for the stake and the burning of witches, and the law’s to know who they are. This is how the end will come; and all shall burn with green fire, the moon falling and the beam shattering; and the last shall go to shadow all alone, never to return.

Estonia notes

July 29, 2011
  • The Estonian language as compared to Finnish: 30% intelligible, 30% ingellitellitible, 40% iglishbishtish.
  • Related to that, read this at an ice cream shop: “maasika / strawberry”. Took a while to realize that was “maasika”, Estonian for strawberry (Finnish equivalent: mansikka), and not the hypothetical Finnish word “maasika”, “the earth pig”. Which, if it had been that, I would have gotten straight away, but the strawberry was good too.
  • There’s a lighthouse some ten or twenty kilometers off the coast of Tallinn (Estonian capital), on a spit of rock that’s no bigger than the outhouse-sized base of the lighthouse itself. Probably automatized; probably not built as a man-manned place before. But if it had been, oh boy. Would not want to have been a lighthouse keeper there, with a storm coming.
  • Reason why Estonia is so small and wrinkled, geographically, and Finland so bigger and with more lakes: because near every Finn leaves Estonia with a ridiculous tens-of-liters load of beer. Because it’s marginally cheaper there and that’s a culturally acceptable excuse. Now that kinda drain will show.
  • Not that I did; I’m weird enough without chemical help. Plus it’s really funny to subtly goad others into drinking more by knocking back glass after glass… of just Coca-Cola. So that I brought back two 24-can pallets of Coca-Cola means nothing except another foul plan for mornings after.
  • A really cost effective package tour: Bus passes Little Village, north of Finland, 1 pm Tuesday; boat departs Helsinki harbor 9 pm Tuesday, arrives at Tallinn harbor at midnight, releases unquietly-slept passengers 7 am Wednesday; Tallinn is visited; boat returns 6 pm to 9 pm Wednesday; bus back passing Little Village 3 am Thursday. Cost effective; side effect of driving you nuts with caffeine.
  • Also, “boat”? Not really; it’s not that uncommon to go on boats like this just for the fun of cheap alcohol, weird candy and dancing and horrible karaoke and the like. They’re a ten-story, thousand-people attraction enough on their own; also the cheap beer.
  • Bought an Estonian copy of the Game of Thrones (the book); because of the first point above, it’s really funny. Unfortunately this does not translate if you don’t know Finnish. Or does it? Let’s see.

Quote — I write (o) for “o” with a tilde over it — I can’t think of a way that wouldn’t end up being mojibake confusion when gone all the way to you. From page 309:

Robert Baratheon rüüpas suure lonksu (o)lut, viskas tühja sarve oma magamisaseme karusnahkadele, pühkis käeseljaga suud and s(o)nas ähvardavalt: “Paks? V(o)i et paks? Kas nii räägid sa oma kuningada?” Tema naerupahvatus oli äkiline nagu tormipuhang. “Oh, pagan v(o)taks, Ned, miks sul peab alati (o)igus olema?”

Now, assuming you are a Finnish-speaker, and use that to try to decipher the quote, and replace your guesses with English, the following results, guesses in bold, left wildly häiry to reflect the fact they’re not quite Finnish for a Finnish-speaker:

Robert Baratheon drünked a biggie lonksu bëër, thröwed de ëmpty horny oma magamisaseme karusnahkadele, wïped wid bäck-öf-händ his möuth änd s(o)nas ähvardavalt: “Fattie? Eeeh, fattie you säy? Kas nii räägid you youse own kingu?Thissy laughing-pahvatus was sudden-like nagu tormipuhang. “Oh, pagan v(o)taks, Ned, why you müst foreverlike righty-o to be?”

Not all that elegant, but that’s what it feels like. And, checking from another book, here’s the bit in the English original:

Robert Baratheon took a long swallow of beer, tossed the empty horn onto his sleeping furs, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and said darkly, “Fat? Fat, is it? Is that how you speak to your king?” He let go his laughter, sudden as a storm. “Ah, damn you, Ned, why are you always right?”

Mr Breivik: The anatomy of commentary

July 23, 2011

So a nut, an Anders Behring Breivik, goes on a killing spree in Oslo and Utoya, Norway. He is a nut described as a “Christian conservative”, anti-Muslim, anti-immigration (but I repeat myself) and the sort.

Shortly afterwards, in those circles, these are the reactions —

  • No true Scotsman: “Well, he wasn’t a real Christian conservative!”
  • Un-derailable mind: “Well, I say he was a Muslim sleeper wanting to smear Christian conservatives!”
  • Shadow jumper: “It strains my credulity that he worked alone. Where are the handlers? Who I’m not saying who they were, but *doomchord*!”
  • Long-liner: “He is a patsy, just like McVeigh, Oswald and Booth! (This is well known.)”
  • Non-Occamian: “So ‘his fb account was set up a few days BEFORE’, gunpistolman08? That cinched it — no Christian conservative, but a well-planted plant patsy false-flag operation supported by American Boobama-Soros REAL AXIS OF EVIL agents in Norway!”
  • Generic advisory: “DON’T BELIEVE THE LIES!!!”
  • All-Connecter: “…how convenient. Because this is clearly NWO/UN persecuting me/us, isn’t this convenient, the death of all our freedoms, from my cold dead hands, a more “primitive” nation would have beaten him to death with chisels, this is why the Fed is bad for you, also the police are useless because they do not teleport.”
  • Party whip: “Hey, you, bigmike133, what are you, a socialist commie homo? Why do you hate Christ and want to put all of us in camps? Also, as to the content of your post, what do you mean he was Christian, what kind of commie bullshit is that?”
  • Patternalist: “First my favorite reporter gets fired. Then my cats knocks over the milk dish. Now this. I sense a pattern here.”
  • Patternafictionalist: “Oh right, this is just like in the book where this was a plot to undermine the credibility of Christian conservatives. I say we citizen-arrest the president pre-emptively.”
  • Keeper to the essential: “Uh, but haven’t you seen this scary headline about MUSLIMS???”

Not that those have been the only stupid reactions to this stupid, deluded criminal lunatic —

  • Mr. Law-and-Order: “Clearly metal detectors on highways and in public areas are the solution. Also those buying fertilizer should be checked for unstabular mental tendencies.”
  • Mr. Armchair: “I find it appalling that the Norwegian police would take more than five minutes to get anywhere. Clearly more police is needed.”
  • Mr. Reason: “As there is no free will, this hobby of his is to blame.”
  • Mr. Alarmist: “Today it happened in Norway… so clearly you should feel like it will happen to you next! Get in your car and race to buy firearms now!
  • Mr. Post-Fact: “I am made angry this man was not stopped. That he gave no warning is no excuse! The police must have precognition, or face punishment! Fire them! Sue them! Blood for the grief god!”

A fan of false histories

July 20, 2011

I may have said it before, but I like the Lord of the Rings a lot; and of it, my favorite part overall are the Appendices.

Also, as delicious as novels of alternate history are, there’s something stronger, tastier in Robert Sobel’s For Want of a Nail, a textbook from an alternate history of the United States and Mexico… excuse me, from the history of the Confederation of North America and of the United States of Mexico. (Point of divergence: if the dastardly American rebellion against his most sane monarchy of George III went splat instead of hurrah.)

Every bit of fantasy, alternate history and science fiction that goes on, needs to tell of the world it goes on in; and for some reason those worlds often interest me more than the tales told in them.

It’s something of a problem that the wider reading public, and the publishing industry that serves it, does not seem to feel likewise. When I try to think of books that have worldbuilding and false history in them, without all those meddling heroes and plots and character development (or that at least zoom out enough), I don’t come up with a long list. The Lord of the Rings appendices; A Song of Ice and Fire appendices (at A Dance with Dragons length they begin to count), David Eddings’ Rivan Codex, the World of Robert Jordan’s the Wheel of Time and a few other fantasy-epic “compendiums”, and a wide variety of roleplaying manuals. For Want of a Nail is the only book that’s the thing in and of itself that I can recall; and that pisses me off, now and then. (Then I go surfing to some wiki or other; also, I’ve never watched a single episode of Star Trek, but Memory Alpha sure is fine reading.)

Surely there should be enough people that read streamlined factual history for fun, even without the injection of plots; surely I’m not the only fan of fantasy that’s always hoping for more background. There are fans of portraiture, and fans of landscape painting because not every landscape needs to be a backdrop to a portrait; why not likewise with books?

* * *

I just note that usually when I scribble something fantasy-related down, it’s not an engaging character or a dramatic quest — no, it’s a weird local habit or a line on dragon-related economy or a note on lineage, and if I try to expand on it I get king lists and essays on manners and warfare and bloody witcheries; but I don’t get much plot.

Maybe someday I’ll fish out my world-sketches of the place where Angala and Amida fought their terrible hundred-year war, and Tyrion Shimonda and Ablen Aotha and Tion Gomennaich raised the Southern Empire, the genius and the grunt and the adopted son made a god; where Kor’s trader ships glide through dark waters into Tivyania (all of whose three millennia of history I could recount, emperor by emperor, and disaster by doom, the immortal first emperors and the troubles caused by their children, fallen into shadows and forgotten but not dead), and through poisonous coasts, haunted by serpent shadows and bone-filled temple ruins and the Lovecraftian beginnings of a Forgotten Realms-ian world, into the central sea where the three empires of Falyon rose and fell (and now girl knights laugh at the opposing shore’s sputtering patriarchs), until Aen’s military orders, Angala’s wayward children, rose with their massed soldiers and their denial of families and their not-quite-human knights; where the Codakian Civil War continues, the magistrates of Drakkenport scheme, and the magistrates of Thonport thrive, and magic is not a convenient entropy-reversing thing but an electric socket for probing fingers of iron; where… ah, hell. You see the problem? Millennia of history, ideas and theology (and a third fact wherever two clash), and never enough time to detail it all — even those few brush strokes are just the first of what I recall off the top of my head.

Sabbath rules

July 17, 2011

And now, commentary on something not inside my own head.

This past Saturday — that being the Sabbath, the holy day of the Jews — a mob of hundreds protested in Jerusalem against the newest abomination of desolation: a parking lot, open on the Sabbath.

Clearly the rules of Sabbath are many and complex: no parking; yes rioting. Hurling stones and throwing garbage bins not work; parallel parking very much work. (Also, the opening hours of a parking lot, clearly a most serious smear on fundamental human dignity — but calling a Jewish policeman “a stinking Nazi”, eh, not a big deal.)

Not only does this kind of madness make the reality-tethered Jewish majority look bad; it makes me much less willing to want to visit Jerusalem, too. Who knows if after no-one parking on Saturdays the ultra-Orthodoxes’ll insist on no-one having Internet, one day in seven? After all, electricity is just like fire, and as making fire on the Sabbath is forbidden, computers… wait, no, this kind of blind rules-lawyering is hopeless and will lead only to neurotic contradictions; this is the behavior of a mathematician, not of a sane person.

And mathematics should be left to trained professionals, to people who know to say “No!” to applications. Otherwise, you’ll be saying God dislikes parking on Saturdays, and that’s crazy talk.

The evil logical conclusion of a fantasy saga

July 15, 2011

Continuing on the previous thought of “It must be socially horrible to be Sherlock Holmes“: I wish I had a bland, moderately successful fantasy franchise.

Not just for the fame and the moderate amount of money, nice though those would be — but for the joy of the “logical conclusion”.

Consider this.

In your average fantasy saga, as it grows long, there is first one Dark Lord or Threat To All Life. That is dispatched, thanks to our motley crew of snappy heroes, who get money, power, spouses, other rewards. Then another ravaging, havocking threat comes, roars, and goes down: more principalities, kingdoms, children accrue to our heroes. Lather, rinse, repeat: seems the heroes’ lifetime is a period of more upheaval, destruction and chaos than any before.

It would be so sweet to conclude such a series with a Terrible Revelation: Our Heroes are no heroes, but the lodestones and agents of a still vaster force of destruction and chaos! Never mind the bogeys they fought: they were a symptom, not the cause. The — by this volume — absurdly overpowered heroes were the real villains all along.

Let me explain.

Does their own concept of Right and Justice trump all laws and rulers? Do they do what they want, for some vague Greater Good, and damn the whims of others? Why yes, it seemed so reasonable they were autocrats — political compromise does not fare well in fantasy. And if someone disagrees, and dares think the farmboy might not be the most apt king, the scruffy wizard the bestest adviser, the one single life worth hazarding the whole kingdom — well, humiliating the uptight vizier chump seems so right. And if he takes offense, and then takes offense, why off with his traitorous head! (Disregard hurt feelings, possible alliances and families. In common fantasy, “good” equals “chums with the heroes”.)

Do the heroes have their own ideals, ones that seem a little askew, a little naive and simplistic? Why, that’s storybook heroic! And why, which Evil Overlord doesn’t have high ideals, in the beginning? It’s a garden variety that wants power and riches from the outset; really good — by which I mean, evil — overlords start with the best intentions, only their intentions work only in a world which isn’t as the real one is.

The usual conflict is this — Overlord wants people to be machines, so they can be regimentally happy, like he wants. People are chaotic gentle folks. Harsh measures, tyranny ensues to make people into stackable square pegs instead of all manner of round ones.

But how about this: Overlord wants people to be kind, gentle, chaotic folks, so they can be bucolically happy, as he sees fit and wants. People are unrepentant selfish bastards, or just go for a freebie when they see one. Harsh measures, tyranny ensues to force people into unselfish kindness and gentleness. (“Frolic, damn you! And be quirky with it!”)

And so — do our heroes keep the course that seems Right and Just to them, and risk their good intentions turning sour once their lives aren’t so charmed anymore? Or do they give up, walk into the shadows, and leave the world to its devices, and more random patches of small-e evil lords and ladies?

(…said the Emissary of Chaos, grinning evilly. “Or did you never ask for the source of your successes, the reason for why you were so indispensable? Did you really believe those silly prophecies? Did you ever wonder why you had the Sea-Devil’s own luck? Why you, sir knight, were so absurdly unbeatable — you, sir wizard, ever recalled the crucial clue? Why, sirs brawlers, did you came out of every fight alive, both of you? Why death avoided all of you, save that one solitary significant time it so well served to inspire you? Dears, sirs, did you really think the world worked that way? No! The world is a messy, ugly place where your ideals alone, the purity of your essence alone, will not see you to justice and success, for the world is one big cursed muddle. But far be it from me to lecture you — the blessing of Chaos is withdrawn, and you are mere people once more. Powerful sorcerers, skilled thieves, formidable knights, that is true — but the continuation of your continent-shaking success is no longer guaranteed. Do on your own, or call for the help of Chaos — Chaos cares not, for her will will be served either way.”)

(And with a flash of light and a dark cloud over the sun, the Emissary of Chaos was gone.)

(“Well”, the Thief said, “we’re boned.”)

Sherlock Holmes, deluged

July 14, 2011

(From the Personal Confessions of S. Holmes, Detective; unpublished by the wish of the executor of his estate, John H. Watson.)

43. The Nature of My Fame,
And Resulting Developments
(cont’d and concl’d)

Thus the published accounts of my friend, John Watson, mispresented me out of necessity. They make me into a monster of near magical ability, by picking solely from among those cases where I could extricate the Truth from the morasses of mystery. for the detective, crying “What does it all mean?”, does not make for the kind of a story the readership of the Strand Magazine is likely to find palatable to their tastes.

Still more damning, though still necessary, was the second kind of sieve my friend was forced to utilize: he could only recount the mysteries where the actual mysterious was present.

Thus, in one example out of many, in the “adventure” of the “Boscombe Valley Mystery” we were sought by a young woman who was mortally certain her childhood friend could not be the murderer he was, seemingly inevitably, to be branded as by the courts.

In that case her guess, unjustified as it was by any kind of evidence, still was shown correct. In dozens — in hundreds! thousands! — of other cases, all stillborn, we were approached by girls, women, boys, husbands, mothers, uncles, neighbors, masters, servants, even a stranger with the same name, all as equally certain, and as bereft of all proof save vagaries of emotion, that a cast-iron police case was mistaken, and only the great and infallible Sherlock Holmes could set the matter to rights.

Watson did well for the peace of mind of the British public to not tell of those cases — of the high hopes, the days of picking at the most clear and forbidding monuments to guilt as ever went to Tyburn’s gallows, of how in so many cases there was no place for doubt in the correctness of the guilt as originally placed, and not even a place for reasonable enough doubt — better for the cheer of the public that Watson did not tell how, so many times, two days into an investigation I had been forced into, his eyes began to follow me, asking the same damnable question: “Nothing, Holmes? Nothing, again?”

I may be the greatest detective that has ever lived, save a handful of more gifted individuals, but against the facts even I cannot do much. And much as such might please my friend, it cannot be thought very sporting to bring up excuses to spring a murderer free, no matter how odious the victim, unpremeditated the act, and hypothetically delighted the concerned lady friend!

Not only that, but my actions as a detective, in exercising my mental faculties as was the only alternative to the lassitudes of opium or madness, and as an “agent of justice” as Watson so ceaselessly delighted in portraying me, were dependent on a deluge of willing customers — and for that reason, the great Sherlock Holmes could not dabble in perversions of justice overmuch, or spend time on cases where no great mystery was present, but only the self-evident and sordid stench of guilt, obscured by the cloud of love, affection or some other human incredulity.

Whenever the police approached me with a case, I reacted with alacrity, and hope: being familiar with kind of crimes that Watson never dared to commit to paper, and the kind of gentle, upstanding and beloved people who often committed those crimes, they were also free of excesses of emotional illusion, and thus not likely to bring obviously clear cases to me. Nine times out of ten, a Lestrade brought me a genuine mystery; nine times out of ten, a member of the public brought me only irritation and a waste of my abilities and time; and to themselves and Watson, nothing but added grief.

The reasons for my many retirements were diverse, as I have explained above in the part of these memoirs relating to the actual history of my operations, and not to their philosophical content; but one constant reason to abandon my pursuits for opium, science or even the collection of stamps was this — the more famous Sherlock Holmes became, the greater the masses of these sad, hopeless fools became. And I worked in ratiocination, in logic, in the cold trade of facts and iron-clad inferences; I cannot work miracles, and make wishes come true. Such power belongs only to — pshaw, on that matter I have not exhausted all other possibilities as of this date.

* * *

Note: Whenever I read or see enough of a detective show, I’m struck by how horrible the lives of these people would be. The Great Sleeping Detective Kogoro Mori, so sure to run into a corpse wherever he goes that it is an actual joke in the works — Hercule Poirot, whose vacations always seem to involve arsenic and blood — and Sherlock Holmes, most of all, always sought out by people so sure there’s a more comfortable truth, if there only was a Sherlock to find it.

For another piece of my meta-Sherlockian dickery, see “Charles Augustus Milverton: Never happened?

Grotesque argumentation

July 13, 2011

Tonight, for the pressing issue of eating apples, it is John Q. Public of the Public Coalition for Goodness, and Alice Eve Robert from the public pressure group “Screaming!”

John: Good evening, all. And straight to the point — eating apples is evil, because it is unnatural! It is something animals do not do; and thus if we do it, we become no better than animals ourselves. I rest my case.

Alice: Animals so do eat apples. So should we! Also, who are you to say people cannot eat apples if they want to? If eating apples makes people feel good, who are you to judge? It’s licking floors for some, apples or genocide for others — keep your meddling nose out what people want! I rest my case!

John: The trustworthy report I hold in my upraised hand contradicts all scientific consensus by suggesting eating apples causes death. Also cancer. I would not trust such a radical finding, if it was not funded by me.

Alice: Are we not in America? Are we not in the land which was founded on freedom for all, by founders that utterly repudiated every ill known to man? Including slavery, racism, homophobia and misogyny, and not eating apples. How dare you suggest eating apples is un-American? Show the balls which dare do this, and I shall with my fist of justice repudiate them… utterly!

John: P-shaw! Your distortions enrage and delight me. It is well known unto the level of a popular anecdote and a snappy zinger that George Washington hated apples; why do you think he did the apple tree down in the first place? He knew the face of the worm of temptation in it, and he could not lie! Dare you say George Washington, commonly accepted as the Wisest Human Being, could have been wrong? He saw this — he saw all this with his magical god-man vision, and in this pamphlet I have decoded his will on it, and cloning too!

Alice: Hah! I call upon a higher authority — the Bible says, in the Book of Wernstrom, “do what thou wilt; for doing doth please the Lord”. This is the overall nice happy message of the Book of Wernstrom, including apple-eating, so there!

John: Foul blasphemer! Read ye not the whole of the Book of the Most Holy and Sacred Wernstrom the Detailer — for in the One Hundred and Ninety-Ninth Chapter saieth he: “Also eat not apples as gruel is eaten, for I Wernstrom declare that maketh a man a habitation of demons!”

Alice: Enough! I’m pro eating — he’s contra eating! I’m for something; therefore I am right. Allowing something is the trend; come follow me! We are demonstrating minority happy people — they are dour depressing official people — support the happy people, and eating apples!

John: Enough yourself! I’m pro morals and contra sin — incidentally eating apples is contra morals and pro sin, because I say so! It offends me, it makes me feel bad and it makes you feel icky and weird — so no to eating dem apples! That’s what Adam would have said!

Pottermore?

July 10, 2011

So this Pottermore site will sell Harry Potter ebooks and contain something like Rowling’s own Potter encyclopedia. Also more buyables and unlockables. (What hey: official Harry Potter ebooks, finally. Only a decade or so after the unofficial ones. One wonders if the officials have all the GrandPré chapterheads too.)

But the encyclopedia-thing — could be very nice; could be utterly horrible too. Depends on the ratio of geekery to generality; the ratio of fanservice to exciting interactive multimedia online business opportunities.

For some reason I’m better in imagining the utterly horrible.

* * *

Search: Potter

You have found entry “The Potter family in wizarding history, 1750–1990”.

You have not unlocked the entry “The Potter family in wizarding history, 1750–1990”. Please unlock it!

You do not have enough Snitch points to unlock any entries! Why not play e-Quidditch to earn more Snitch points?

To play e-Quidditch, you need to register. Enter your user name, password —

The user name “Titmouse” cannot be registered. Dobby disapproves!

— your user name, password —

Thank you for registering, “Gruffindor”! Enter your address and credit card details below to finish activating your account. Please note you need to be over 18 to play e-Quidditch.

Thank you! Press “Download” to download the e-Quidditch game file, then select the downloaded file in the Run menu.

Downloading “eq-probe.exe”… 4% (2 444 / 96 111 kb)

Unable to execute file. “eq-probe.exe” is not a valid executable.

Troubleshooting with Dobby! What is your problem? FILE WILL NOT RUN

Answer: Sorry! E-quidditch may not be available for your platform! (Dobby says: Why not buy a Dell Hertzmaster IA1A0 with Windows 7 Pokemon Edition from our special “Hogsmeade Partner”, Gouger’s Computer Shack?)

Troubleshooting with Dobby! What is your problem? LINUX

Answer: Dobby doesn’t know anything about that! Dobby will hit Dobby over the head with a tin pot, just like in the books!

Troubleshooting with Dobby! What is your problem? RAEG RISING HIGHER

Answer: Dobby doesn’t know anything about that! Dobby will hit Dobby over the head with a tin pot, just like in the books!

You have new mail! Sender: exciting@pottermore.com Subject: If you liked Harry Potter, you are going to love The Infantile Adventures of Bunny McSquee by Jennifer Noname!

Post deleted.

Address added to blacklist.

Tea fetched.

Search: Potter

You have found the entry “Harry Potter”.

In the books, Harry Potter is the Chosen One — but will he defeat the nasty evil wizard Voldemort? To read more about Harry Potter, including exclusive new content by J. K. Rowling, you need to unlock this article!

Hello Muggle! Which part of the exciting Pottermore online multimedia experience would you like to browse? 1) Magickal Buy-o-rium 2) Encyclopedia 3) e-Quidditch! 4) Crackpotteria

You have chosen 4) Crackpotteria. So you think you know the Wizarding World? Let’s have a quiz!

Question 1. What is the color of Ronald Weasly’s hair? a) Red b) Black c) White?

You have chosen a) Red. You are correct! You need 19 more correct answers to earn an OWL Badge!

Question 2. What color did Xerxes Potter’s nose turn in 1824? a) Red b) Black c) White?

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