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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 8

8 Post author: Unnamed 25 August 2011 02:17AM

Update: Discussion has moved on to a new thread.

The hiatus is over with today's publication of chapter 73, and the previous thread is approaching the 500-comment threshold, so let's start a new Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread.  This is the place to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter fanfic and anything related to it.

The first 5 discussion threads are on the main page under the harry_potter tag.  Threads 6 and on (including this one) are in the discussion section using its separate tag system.  Also: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.  The fanfiction.net author page is the central location for information about updates and links to HPMOR-related goodies, and AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author's Notes.

As a reminder, it's often useful to start your comment by indicating which chapter you are commenting on.

Spoiler Warning:  this thread is full of spoilers.  With few exceptions, spoilers for MOR and canon are fair game to post, without warning or rot13.  More specifically:

You do not need to rot13 anything about HP:MoR or the original Harry Potter series unless you are posting insider information from Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).

If there is evidence for X in MOR and/or canon then it's fine to post about X without rot13, even if you also have heard privately from Eliezer that X is true. But you should not post that "Eliezer said X is true" unless you use rot13.

Comments (653)

Comment author: JoshuaZ 25 August 2011 03:40:34AM 23 points [-]

Ok. The Tonks thing was really clever. And the bit about double-witches was brilliant. It definitely drives home the whole issue of taking joy in the merely real. It is a clever, original, and highly plausible interpretation of what people would likely do if they grew up taking some sort of secret magic for granted.

Comment author: Psy-Kosh 25 August 2011 06:52:17PM 22 points [-]

I aspire to be a doubly aspiring double rationalist.

Comment author: shokwave 25 August 2011 04:27:38AM 8 points [-]

Yep, double magic is fantastic. Gonna use that when I hear someone wishing they had magical powers.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 August 2011 04:57:03AM 5 points [-]

Double magic may be a reference to Grossman's The Magicians. Warning: While there are many good things in the book, the viewpoint character is depressed and (in my experience) depressing.

I don't know whether Grossman has read HP:MOR, but he heads it off at the beginning of the book. Everyone at the magic school is a good bit smarter than average, but there's no one who's qualitatively smarter than that, and it's stated that enough unproductive research has been done into the roots of magic that it's generally considered to be a dead end.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 25 August 2011 11:28:44PM 3 points [-]

Grossman's novel was written in 2009. So barring time travel, he wrote his novel before encountering HPMR if he has encountered it.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 28 August 2011 11:27:27PM *  5 points [-]

And here's the version one level down from regular people wishing they were magic. Note: this information can only be unlocked with the gift of psychometric tracery.

Comment author: orthonormal 01 September 2011 03:32:01AM 21 points [-]

From the Author's Notes:

Update for Ch. 75: Yes, I know this wasn't quite as good as Ch. 74. They can't all be as good as Ch. 74. Also, at some point you have to choose between abandoning the sick baby or spending another three goddamned months trying to rewrite it. I do think I learned something from the experience, anyway.

I strongly preferred Chapter 75, incidentally. Chapter 74 seemed to be another "need a way to top previous chapters" experience, like the underwater battle in Chapter 33. The talky chapters, like 75, are the real soul of the fic; the CMOA, after all, was the casting of a single Patronus, but the long inner narrative made it what it was.

Anyway, I think it's amusing that authors' favorites rarely correlate positively with readers' favorites.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 03 September 2011 05:25:21PM 5 points [-]

Anyway, I think it's amusing that authors' favorites rarely correlate positively with readers' favorites.

Eliezer has mentioned that he finds dialog hard to write. Maybe authors' favorites don't match readers' favorites because the authors like the ones that came easily and the readers like the ones that took a lot of effort.

Comment author: drethelin 01 September 2011 04:11:43AM 3 points [-]

Agreed. The chapters were the characters get to really shine are the best. The underwater battle was cool, but the only part I actually CARED about was what happened at the end with Blaise.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 August 2011 07:10:03AM *  20 points [-]

To whichever Less Wrong reader has decided to defend Eliezer's honor by trolling the DarkLordPotter forums: Please stop. I know you mean well, but they as a forum are best ignored. Picking a fight with them, creating multiple accounts to avoid bans, etc., is immature and accomplishes nothing positive.

Comment author: hairyfigment 30 August 2011 05:45:20AM 15 points [-]

When I first saw chapter 74, it ended with this line:

You don't have permission to access on this server.

Until that disappeared, I thought maybe Snape's response to the previous line had broken reality.

Comment author: Xachariah 25 August 2011 04:04:30PM *  14 points [-]

Has there yet been any Word of God on firearms in the Methods of Rationality? I know that the other Word of God has the famous quote, "In a fight between a Muggle with a shotgun and a wizard with a wand, the Muggle will win." I'm curious if this sort of thing still holds for MoR.

Hogwarts, being a school, wouldn't have narrative need to involve any guns directly. Fights between bullies and students rarely end with gunshots even in the real world afterall. But the mere existence of such objects casts ripples on everything else. Just like modern warfare is dominated by the existence of nuclear weapons even when not deployed, guns remaining effective would dominate the shape of all wizard conflicts. Home invasions go from safe for the better wizards to potentially lethal any time. Public takeover (as in Deathly Hallows) becomes impossible. Support from demihuman races become pointless if open battlefields are impossible. Hell, all the death eaters in total seem almost comically weak against a single battalion of trained soldiers loaned from a friendly country and supported by a wizard or two. Death Eaters might be an effective terrorist organization, but could not be the army of a ruling party.

I expect that the story will remain centered on ideological and political differences, with combat remaining non-lethal. But still, knowing that you can pull off an assassination at literally zero risk to yourself at any time (Invisibility Cloak + Sniper Rifle + Portkey + Time Turner) has to do something to an actor's willingness to compromise with rivals.

Comment author: Desrtopa 27 August 2011 09:46:06PM 10 points [-]

A gun might top a wand for a lethal quickdraw, but magic has a ludicrous number of tactical advantages. A home invader with a gun, for instance, is no longer a threat when you can use charms to make it impossible for them to be aware of the existence of your house.

But still, knowing that you can pull off an assassination at literally zero risk to yourself at any time (Invisibility Cloak + Sniper Rifle + Portkey + Time Turner) has to do something to an actor's willingness to compromise with rivals.

The sniper rifle doesn't make this much easier; it's loud (although it might be quieted magically) and Avada Kedavra is a surer kill. Anti apparation spells probably cover portkeys, or if they don't, there are probably other spells to deal with them. Plus, you can't pull it off "at any time" given that it can be stopped by a standing anti-apparation spell and a closed door, which are pretty minimal precautions for a high profile political leader.

If you're really creative, you could probably assassinate just about anyone, but this is more or less true in real life, and prevented largely by the extremely small overlap between people with that kind of creativity and people who want to pull off assassinations.

Comment author: Xachariah 27 August 2011 10:11:29PM *  9 points [-]

I was considering more a wizard vs wizard+technology situation. Presumably wizards already figure out ways into charmed houses; the addition of guns just make it easier once you've already located it.

The benefit of a sniper rifle is the range. Harry Potter magic seems to be effective at about a dozen yards at most. The longest confirmed sniper kill is over one and a half miles without any aid of aiming magic; the sound of the bullet arrives about 5 seconds after you're already dead. That should leave you well outside of the range of any anti-apparition wards, and require knowledge of ballistics to even track you to your shooting spot. Lee Harvey Oswald would have gotten away easily if he could apparate or portkey; as it was he was able to walk around for an hour until police were tipped off to his suspicious activity. Voldemort specifically seems to have an odd thing for meeting in the outdoors, and Dumbledore is fond of watching Quiddich. It's not like there would never be an opportunity.

Comment author: Desrtopa 27 August 2011 10:43:27PM 8 points [-]

Voldemort met outdoors in a graveyard in the series, once, and that was at a point where nobody but his servants ha any idea he was alive. Secrecy was the Death Eaters' main weapon.

As for assassinating someone like Dumbledore, you could probably do it if he weren't already suspicious enough to take precautions against it, but you could do that with magic as well. Warfare technology would certainly have uses in the wizarding world, particularly for a smart individual, but it's not like any particular combination of technologies and spells is simply uncounterable, it just makes things much more complicated and forces everyone to become more paranoid.

Aside from raising standing shields, taking undisclosed routes or teleporting to safe destinations and all the other precautions one might take, magic might take bullet tracing to entirely new levels. "Find the gun that fired this bullet" and "Find the person who fired this gun" spells may very well exist, or be easy to invent once they're needed.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 August 2011 01:36:17PM *  8 points [-]

I'm thinking McGonnagal could set up a decent nuclear defense system too. Charms that detect incoming airborne objects and transmogrify then into pigs seem right up her alley.

In general it seems that magic gives far more defensive options than technological weaponry. These days our defensive options are pretty much MORE ATTACK! But magic has invisibility, shields, teleport, (extra) secrecy and flipping time turners!

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 August 2011 08:31:58PM 10 points [-]

See "Secrecy and Openness". I directly contradicted Rowling in that chapter for exactly that reason. Roughly, a good wizard or witch who knows what's coming can easily raise a shield against bullets. Bombs are more difficult, although e.g. the Castle Hogwarts would just shrug them off. And there are ancient devices and certain old structures that could stand up to point-blank nuclear weapons, but they're rare.

Comment author: LucasSloan 26 August 2011 10:05:07PM 4 points [-]

Is the Castle of Hogwarts one of the structures which is nuclear weapon proof?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 August 2011 12:05:21AM 3 points [-]

That was hard to decide. I eventually figured on "No" - the Four Founders are too recent, and shouldn't have the magic level necessary to produce large-scale nuke-proof structures.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 August 2011 10:07:48PM *  6 points [-]

Hmm, that gives us some interesting data about the decline of magic. We now know that the power decline included a decline in defensive magic, and this may be the first explicit statement of a type of magic that was capable at some point in the past that the Founders could not use. I'm sure this would be quite useful for Harry.

Also, I think this sort of thing might depend on practice on the size of the nuke by a lot. Some stone buildings in Nagasaki survived relatively intact and are still in use. On the other hand, that bomb had a yield of only around 20 kilotons of TNT. A lot of modern bombs are in the megaton range. So Hogwarts should be able to stand a chance to partially survive a small nuke simply due to the fact that it is a big castle with very thick walls. It shouldn't take that much magic to make that size nuke completely survivable. So even if Hogwarts can't survive a direct strike from a megaton weapon, maybe it should be able to survive a small nuke?

Edit: Another thought, if Dumbledore is now worried about the possible use of nukes wouldn't he try to upgrade the castle's defenses against specifically that sort of attack? It might be that very ancient powerful structures would survive a nuke because they are just that powerful, but even if that sort of general power doesn't exist in the modern time, there are still specific anti-nuke strategies that one could do. If for example one had a spell on the Hogwart's grounds which prevented explosives from detonating that would force a minimum distance for nukes to be used (since nukes need a conventional explosive to make the fission core go critical). One could get around that by having a gun type fission bomb with something other than explosives to launch the bullet (say compressed gas). This would put a severe limit on the maximum yield of the nuke and would mean that no pre-existing nuke would work. Another option would be to have some sort of pre-set transfiguration for the outer walls of the castle, so that if certain events occur the outer walls automatically transfigure into highly durable substances. Harry would probably have other ideas as well. Dumbledore should maybe be asking Harry for advice since Harry is both more creative and has a much better idea in detail what a nuclear detonation requires what the results would be.

Comment author: Logos01 30 August 2011 09:09:52AM 8 points [-]

One could get around that by having a gun type fission bomb with something other than explosives to launch the bullet (say compressed gas).

You're making this too complicated. As evidenced by the levitate-slowly-to-the-ground spell, they've already got magics in-universe that impede the maximum kinetic energy of an object.

Just surround the entire area with a field that inhibits maximum relative velocities to something an arrow could achieve. No more guns, no more bombs, no more nukes. Problem solved.

Comment author: LucasSloan 29 August 2011 04:11:22AM 2 points [-]

Is the cloak of invisiblity one of the devices that would stand up to a nuclear weapon?

Comment author: moridinamael 26 August 2011 02:03:32AM 9 points [-]

Since magic in the HP universe has the property of not having to make sense, one could imagine a spell that simply makes guns not work, or that makes all projectiles move slowly, or that causes everyone within the area to miss what they aim at.

The ending battle of Deathly Hallows pretty much treats wands as if they were guns. You could edit the film to replace all the wands with guns and have very few instances where anything looked wrong. So far HP:MoR has made the magic feel more magical than that.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 August 2011 04:31:27PM 4 points [-]

A muggle could easily shoot an unprepared wizard. However, shouldn't there be magical protections against firearms?

Comment author: Circusfacialdisc 26 August 2011 12:53:33AM 8 points [-]

The most recent update would suggest that fairly standard shielding charms can stop blunt impact.

"Daphne could hardly see the movement as Susan seemed to hit the corridor wall and then bounce off it like she was a rubber ball and her legs smashed into Jugson's face, it didn't go through the shield but the sixth-year went sprawling backward with the impact"

There appears to be conservation of momentum, but the momentum from typical firearms spread out over your entire body isn't even going to leave a bruise, assuming said charms are up to dealing with something with as much sectional density and velocity as a bullet.

IMO a good model for wizard duels vis a vis muggle innovations and creative thinking is the ritualized warfare practiced in the Americas in pre-Columbian times. Lot's of punches pulled, lots of unstated mutual agreements not to escalate, and a general low-intensity level of aggression that doesn't get too many people killed.

Comment author: Xachariah 25 August 2011 05:11:10PM *  6 points [-]

Perhaps there is a charm in MoR. Although in cannon there were arrows killing wizards.

I'm not really concerned about muggle vs wizard, but rather wizard vs wizard. As was mentioned earlier in the story, any spell you can throw out requires them to expend effort to negate. And guns can spit out quit a few 'spells' per second as well as from beyond unaided sight range. Even if a shield existed, guns would still be changing things by forcing enemies to keep up that shield at all times.

Plus there's also the question of IEDs. They pump out enough damage that I doubt any wizard could withstand one. The IRA was active during the time period, and made use of carbombs; it would be unusual if someone like Seamus Finnigan didn't know about them.

Comment author: NihilCredo 25 August 2011 06:49:53PM 10 points [-]

Right after the Azkaban mission, McGonagall, Snape and Dumbledore hold council together. I remember that after Dumbledore shows terror at the idea of a Harry vs. Voldemort war fought with Muggle weapons (he's thinking of nukes), McGonagall thinks something like "firearms aren't that dangerous for a prepared witch".

Comment author: Micaiah_Chang 25 August 2011 05:28:19PM *  9 points [-]

Part of the time when I was reading Deathly Hallows, and all of the time I was reading MoR I always expected Harry or at least SOMEONE else to act like Kiritsugu from Fate/Zero. Imagine: Enchanted portkeys with no destination yet programmed in attached to home made bombs, flash-bang grenades as a staple in wizarding duels to disrupt aiming/concentration, to say nothing of the videogameesque ability to actually carry around an entire armory with you or heal yourself much quicker EVEN IF YOU DON'T USE MAGIC.

(For those of you who don't know, Kiritsugu is a mage assassin who takes advantage of the Magic Association's technophobia and uses weapons as a regular part of the kit: Mages aren't going to defend against you if you're a mile off with a sniper rifle and they aren't going to defend against landmines if they don't know they exist!)

Edit: Actually, scratch the Kiritsugu idea I just want Neville to cast a shield charm of some sort at his feet so he can rocket jump from staircase to staircase at some point. Pity Quake 2 is five years in the future.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 August 2011 08:47:57PM 6 points [-]

"It would be silly if anyone could win the whole war at any time just by owling him a hand grenade," Harry thinks in Ch. 37. A Fate Zero style conflict between a sane and a non-sane wizard ends very quickly, and if two sane wizards ever fight each other...

Comment author: Raemon 26 August 2011 01:38:10AM 6 points [-]

I sort of assumed that's what we were expecting in the eventual Harry/Quirrel showdown...

Comment author: wedrifid 04 September 2011 04:16:50PM *  2 points [-]

Edit: Actually, scratch the Kiritsugu idea I just want Neville to cast a shield charm of some sort at his feet so he can rocket jump from staircase to staircase at some point.

Yes! Rocket jumping Neville please! In fact, the more of Neville fighting stuff the better.

Comment author: Vaniver 25 August 2011 09:18:11PM 3 points [-]

Fights between bullies and students rarely end with gunshots even in the real world afterall.

Well, a number of schools in the real world have gangs that do shoot each other with guns, oftentimes in the school's parking lot.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 31 August 2011 05:18:35PM 2 points [-]

Has there yet been any Word of God on firearms in the Methods of Rationality? I know that the other Word of God has the famous quote, "In a fight between a Muggle with a shotgun and a wizard with a wand, the Muggle will win." I'm curious if this sort of thing still holds for MoR.

That's not how I remember the quote at all. What I remember was more along the lines of "a pure-blood fanatic versus a competent Muggle with a gun would lose," with italics added to indicate which part I'm unsure of the wording on. Which, of course, has completely different implications.

I searched for the original quotation for what I remembered and for the quote that you posted. I couldn't find mine, irritatingly enough, but I couldn't find an original quotation of yours, either. Do you have it?

Comment author: wedrifid 07 September 2011 06:18:19AM 12 points [-]

77: I didn't read the title in full before I read the chapter. I must admit that "Sunk Costs" weren't a lesson that sprung to my mind as I read. Since sunk costs are such an important lesson to convey I rather hope there is another chapter on the subject. It strikes me as something that is easy to contrive scenarios to illustrate.

Comment author: Raemon 07 September 2011 05:41:53PM 3 points [-]

Similar reaction here.

Comment author: bogdanb 03 April 2012 02:44:39PM *  2 points [-]

I was actually wondering more about the “Interlude with the Confessor” part. Is it non-obvious only to me? There’s a chapter with that name in Three Worlds Collide, but other than both containing a private dialogue between two people of different ages I don’t quite see the relation.

Comment author: Dorikka 07 September 2011 09:47:14PM 2 points [-]

I also was left thinking at the end "Where are the sunk costs?"

Comment author: Document 31 August 2011 10:01:47PM *  12 points [-]

From Author's Notes 69:

Also, this thing with S.P.H.E.W.? You're thinking I've been working up to that for a while, right? You're wrong. It just happened, just now.

I'm slightly concerned after reading this post about how serials go off the rails.

Comment author: Raemon 01 September 2011 04:11:41AM 10 points [-]

There seems to be an inverse correlation between how much Eliezer likes his chapters and how much I like them. (My favorite chapter is 47)I thought 75 was great. No, it wasn't as funny. It was chapter 74's job to be funny, and chapter 75's job to touch on some serious issues, and that doesn't make it worse.

I really liked Hermione and Harry sitting and talking through their issues in an adult manner. Literature could use more of than and less indignant yelling like the fourth-year-girls recommend.

(In general I also like chapters with lots of dialog. I feel like we get the most character-development-per-pound that way.)

Comment author: BenLowell 02 September 2011 05:34:41AM 28 points [-]

I just like how often not communicating is used in fiction as a false way of creating conflict, but Eliezer shows that you can still have a story (with conflict!) when people try and understand each other.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 05 September 2011 06:39:51AM 13 points [-]

This is something I hadn't realized explicitly until you pointed it out. But yes, lazy authors don't bother to give their characters conflicting goals or personalities or deep beliefs, so they give them conflicting surface beliefs and then come up with bad excuses for them not to communicate.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 05 September 2011 12:05:12PM 6 points [-]

But people do hold conflicting surface beliefs and refuse to communicate...

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 05 September 2011 05:46:54PM *  7 points [-]

But people do hold conflicting surface beliefs and refuse to communicate...

Certain kinds of stupidity may be common and yet too stupid to be a source of interesting conflict in fiction.

Comment author: lessdazed 05 September 2011 02:12:47PM *  6 points [-]

Real life isn't a coherent narrative. Realistic fiction would look and sound something like this. Good authors avoid doing that, except in parody.

Comment author: CronoDAS 07 September 2011 11:18:26AM *  2 points [-]

Good authors avoid doing that, except in parody.

O RLY?

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2011 06:04:54PM 6 points [-]

I really liked Hermione and Harry sitting and talking through their issues in an adult manner. Literature could use more of than and less indignant yelling like the fourth-year-girls recommend.

Defnitely. What is the point of getting into yelling matches when the physiological arousal that comes with it cannot even be then channeled into makeup sex?

Comment author: Alicorn 29 August 2011 08:50:29PM 10 points [-]

Why has no one advanced the hypothesis that Harry is a double wizard?

Comment author: JoshuaZ 29 August 2011 10:15:49PM *  17 points [-]

Possible in-universe explanation: I would guess people suspect that barring emergencies double-wizards keep their abilities secret. So Susan can use her double-wizard abilities just that once when she really needs to. A double-wizard would get in trouble for using their abilities all the time just as a wizard would get in trouble if they used magic around Muggles all the time. Also, what Harry does is so weird that it doesn't even fit what they think a double-wizard might do.

Probable actual explanation: Eliezer didn't think of the double-wizard initially.

Comment author: sketerpot 01 October 2011 04:21:18AM *  3 points [-]

The obvious conclusion is that Harry is a triple wizard pretending to be only a double wizard pretending to be a wizard (who sometimes pretends to be a muggle). Twisted indeed are the minds and deeds of triple wizards.

Comment author: Alex_Altair 05 September 2011 03:40:34PM 12 points [-]

Considering that Harry is being taught Legilimency behind the scenes, was given an invisibility cloak and time-turner, has lunch every week with Quirrel, researches the science of magic with Hermione, and probably a bunch of other things I can't think of, I think it's safe to say that he IS a double wizard.

Comment author: Xachariah 26 August 2011 12:19:02AM *  28 points [-]

I just realized how Wizard negotiations are so far ahead of their muggle counterparts. They accidentally stumbled upon the best possible decision theory.

Take the prisoner's dilemma, except this time add in time tuners. Defection will immediately be punished by defection. The only stable time-loops that can exist are cooperate-cooperate or defect-defect. Actors with mutual access to time tuners will literally have to choose as though controlling the logical output of the abstract computation they implement, includes the output of all other instantiations and simulations of that computation. You don't need to be able to perfectly predict the other person's actions when you can actually observe them and change your own answers to match before negotiations happen.

Two nations going into negotiations will have the Prime Minister wake up, read a note saying "cooperate - agree to concession <xyz> and gain concession <abc>" then go into negotiations and finish in ten minutes. This seems well within the purview of normal time travel and not too far into calculating prime factors with a time-tuner. Although, I'm not sure if Robin Hanson's pie problem would result in "Everybody cooperates" or "Do not mess with time." Intuitively I think time tuners would still do a lot of the heavy lifting, or wizards would intentionally setup the negotiations to be time-tuner-solvable. Then again I'm no expert on time traveling wizard decision theory.

Regardless, this explains how wizards were able to come up with so many agreements. The International Warlock Convention of 1289, the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy in 1692, the Warlocks Convention of 1702, etc. These all occurred hundreds of years before the concept of nations in muggle lands, let alone international diplomacy as we know it today. With easy and painless negotiations, and perfect decision theory such things would be trivial. No wonder wizards have been pulling off international cooperation since the dark ages!

Comment author: gjm 05 September 2011 04:40:19PM 9 points [-]

"What's your name?"

The black cloak rotated slightly, back and forth, it didn't look like shoulders shrugging, but it conveyed a shrug. "That is the riddle, young Ravenclaw. Until you solve it, you may call me whatever you wish."

The ... riddle, eh? Hmm. What with that, and the "Tell them I ate it" describing an avatar of Death earlier, I can't help thinking that Tom has failed to pay full attention to that Evil Overlord list of his.

(Assuming, at least for the sake of argument and perhaps for other reasons of which I shall not speak here, that both Quirrell and Hat&Cloak are Voldemort.)

Comment author: rdb 06 September 2011 10:52:40PM 4 points [-]

Is this partly a practical in updating estimates?

  • I guessed Quirrell for Mr-Hat-and-Cloak after Zabini's interaction and obliviation

Since then

  • Snape has been shown to be a player
  • I think Quirrell has never been shown using obliviation
  • Quirrell comments on Snape's 52 obliviations after the ambush
  • Quirrell has been shown to have a very good model of Harry. Assuming that is of importance to him, he would have needed a better model of Hermione that Hat&Cloak has shown and "I do permit myself to read faces".
  • House Slytherin Marauder's Map equivalent to simplify logistics?

Though thinking about it, Quirrell's knowledge of the 3rd floor corridor corridor could have been Legimens and Obliviation of the more astute Gryfindors - like Fred & George with their ward breakers monocles...

Comment author: Xachariah 07 September 2011 08:49:08AM *  6 points [-]

I would add as weak evidence the need each person has for being Mr-Hat-and-Cloak.

  • Hermoine Granger recognizes the true face of Mr-Hat-and-Cloak. This should rule out proxy agents or Sirius Black.
  • Mr-Hat-and-Cloak does not understand girls. Dumbledore or Lucius would understand the need for appearances immediately. Quirrell would get it very quickly. Which leaves...
  • Severus Snape does not understand girls. Until Sunk Costs, he'd never kissed a girl. He does not have a good model of relationships or seemingly girls in general.
  • Mr-Hat-and-Cloak is emotionally invested in converting Hermione Granger. This implies that it is important to Hat's plans that it succeeds. Quirrell and Dumbledore have a multitude of options to influence the outcome and shape of Harry's life; Snape has effectively zero.
Comment author: ArisKatsaris 07 September 2011 09:31:53AM 4 points [-]

Hermoine Granger recognizes the true face of Mr-Hat-and-Cloak. This should rule out proxy agents or Sirius Black.

I don't think Sirius Black can be ruled out. It's quite possible that Hermione has seen pictures of famous past criminals, including Sirius and Bellatrix. Also her sudden terror at recognizing him seems way bigger than if it had been someone like Severus or Quirrel, so this recognition made me update upwards the probability of him being Sirius Black, not downwards.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 September 2011 07:36:13AM 8 points [-]

This may have been pointed out before, but not where Google and I could find it.

Harry, speculating in Chapter 25:

Some intelligent engineer, then, had created the Source of Magic, and told it to pay attention to a particular DNA marker.

The obvious next thought was that this had something to do with "Atlantis".

Harry had asked Hermione about that earlier - on the train to Hogwarts, after hearing Draco say it - and so far as she knew, nothing more was known than the word itself.

It might have been pure legend. But it was also plausible enough that a civilization of magic-users, especially one from before the Interdict of Merlin, would have managed to blow itself up.

The line of reasoning continued: Atlantis had been an isolated civilization that had somehow brought into being the Source of Magic, and told it to serve only people with the Atlantean genetic marker, the blood of Atlantis.

Chapter 61:

"Worse than any peril I know," said Albus. "But probably not worse than whatever erased Atlantis from Time."

The Friendly AI Critical Failure Table:

34: The programmers and anyone else capable of explaining subsequent events are sent into temporal stasis, or a vantage point from which they can observe but not intervene. The rest of the world remains as before, except that psychic powers, ritual magic, alchemy, et cetera, begin to operate. All role-playing gamers gain special abilities corresponding to those of their favorite character.

Comment author: Xachariah 07 September 2011 08:07:48AM 3 points [-]

It's a reference to Harry Potter and the Wastelands of Time. Ancient magic, unlimited timetravel, and correspondingly more powerful opponents.

Comment author: Desrtopa 04 September 2011 03:09:56PM *  8 points [-]

I'm a bit surprised that nobody has started talking about one of the most important things revealed in this chapter. Quirrell knows that Snape is on Dumbledore's side. The fact that they had a double agent working against Voldemort in the original canon was quite possibly the Order of the Pheonix's single biggest advantage, and in this canon I would say that it was one of the two most important pieces of information Quirrell might not have known (the other being that Harry knows about the prophesy.) This solidifies Quirrell's position tremendously; there are few liabilities greater than an uncovered double agent.

Comment author: wedrifid 04 September 2011 04:05:52PM *  4 points [-]

He's Quirrell. I more or less assume Quirrell can deduce at least a cynical caricature of any player's motives, resources and actions with a glance or two. Snape trying to double agent Quirrell and Dumbledore just seems absurd!

I'm also not sure I would quite have assigned Quirrell as the guy who needs to know about Snape's loyalties. It seems like it is Lucious who is going to be the Death Eater Lord in this one. Quirrell has a whole other game. This means that Snape still has a chance to be a double agent, so long as Quirrell doesn't meddle for fun and/or profit.

Comment author: Atelos 05 September 2011 12:22:31AM 7 points [-]

He may still be able to be a double agent in Quirrel's organization.

In canon, Voldemort knew Snape reported to Dumbledore, how could he not when Snape was spared Azkaban on Dumbledore's word that Snape was a spy. Voldemort however thought that Snape reported to Dumbledore only for the advantages it gave him, personally and in the form of information to be used for the Death Eaters, and not from any true loyalty to the Light or opposition to the Death Eaters.

Similarly, Quirrelmort knows Snape serves Dumbledore, but thinks (perhaps even correctly) that Snape is also plotting and acting on his own, presumably because of some difference of opinion with the Headmaster. Quirrelmort obviously won't think him a loyal Death Eater like Voldemort did, but for that matter I doubt Quirrelmort trusts anyone who hasn't been put through what Bella has to be truly loyal. Spying on him was always going to be harder than spying on canon Voldemort, but he still may relay important information to Snape in the course of asking him the 'favors' that he wants in exchange for not informing on him to Albus. Particularly if Snape's actions weren't actually against the headmaster's orders, or if he decides to come clean about them while still pretending to Quirrel that he wants his plot to remain secret.

Comment author: TobyBartels 05 September 2011 08:16:40AM 4 points [-]

Quirrelmort obviously won't think him a loyal Death Eater like Voldemort did

Obviously. And this isn't because of their recent conversation, or because of the Battle of Forty-four Bullies, or because of any other difference between MoR and canon deeper than that MoR!Voldemort is not stupid.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 29 August 2011 02:44:47AM *  8 points [-]

Ok. Wow. New chapter up.

The ritual references Doctor Seuss (explicitly), Lovecraft, Slayers, Hellraiser, and Warhammer. Edit: And Zelazny. Did I miss anything else?

And the example ritual which Quirrel references is if I'm not mistaken the failed attempt to summon Death in The Sandman. (Is that correct? I don't have a copy on me, but the ingredients certainly sound similar to that. If not, what is this referencing?)

That was an amazing mix of seriousness, darkness, humor (especially the way end), and with a bit of rationality and psychology thrown in also. That chapter was amazing.

Edit: I'm a little worried. We know that a lot of fictional stuff in non-HP fiction turns out to be real in this universe. I hope Harry hasn't accidentally triggered something.

Edit: Also, this does raise a serious question: Since Harry has read Lord of the Rings and Lovecraft and a fair bit of other stuff, how much of what he is making up is made by him from fiction he knows and how much is stuff that he happens to write that sounds good that happens to (at a meta level) reference fiction in our universe? For example, it is extremely unlikely although just potentially possible for Harry to have seen some version of Slayers. But this seems unlikely.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 31 August 2011 09:15:30PM 2 points [-]

Edit: I'm a little worried. We know that a lot of fictional stuff in non-HP fiction turns out to be real in this universe. I hope Harry hasn't accidentally triggered something.

I'm having difficulty parsing this. The only interpretation I can come up with is that people have often written (fantasy?) fiction which turns out to come true, and that doesn't seem accurate.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 31 August 2011 09:27:52PM *  7 points [-]

The worry is that in the HPMR universe a lot of things which are fictional in our universe have turned out to exist. For example, McGonagall's references to prior Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers included Professor Summers and Professor Blake. In some cases the situation looks even stranger since Harry has played Dungeons and Dragons (we found that out in the visit to Diagon Alley) but Draco has heard about creatures called mindflayers which are from D&D. Making things worse, we also know that Harold Shea is a real world wizard in Harry's universe and his entire MO is to go into fictional universes from "our" universe.

The concern therefore is that there might be a creature or terrible thing that Harry thinks is fictional but actually exists. Thus it might well be that the Chaos Gods or Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth actually exists. If so, Harry using them in a chant could have some very bad consequences.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 01 September 2011 02:22:10AM 3 points [-]

Ah, much clearer.

Comment author: Jem 29 August 2011 06:17:41PM 2 points [-]

I think you can add Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the list. "Acathla" was the name of the demon that the big bads were attempting to summon (or reawaken) at the end of Buffy season 2.

Comment author: Karl 29 August 2011 05:22:30PM 2 points [-]

I don't think the part about summoning Death is a reference to anything. After all, we already know what the incarnations of Death are in MOR. And it looks like the conterspell to dismiss Death is lost no more thanks to Harry...

Comment author: NihilCredo 29 August 2011 04:27:06PM 2 points [-]

And the example ritual which Quirrel references is if I'm not mistaken the failed attempt to summon Death in The Sandman.

I immediately went to check when I read that passage and no, the sacrifical items don't match at all (although the style is the same). Next I thought it might be from Terry Pratchett's Mort, but it wasn't that either, although this passage is strikingly germane:

The Rite of AshkEnte, quite simply, summons and binds Death. Students of the occult will be aware that it can be performed with a simple incantation, three small bits of wood and 4cc of mouse blood, but no wizard worth his pointy hat would dream of doing anything so unimpressive; they knew in their hearts that if a spell didn’t involve big yellow candles, lots of rare incense, circles drawn on the floor with eight different colours of chalk and a few cauldrons around the place then it simply wasn’t worth contemplating.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 29 August 2011 01:28:18AM *  8 points [-]

We know that Hogwarts changes itself and has a mind of its own. We also know that Eliezer had pointed out to him in a completely distinct context that doorknobs were not invented until the second half of the 19th century. (In this thread.) In chapter 71, Eliezer explicitly mentions a door in Hogwarts having a knob. Am I overthinking or has he just given us evidence that Hogwarts is smart enough to adopt new technologies to itself?

This may not be the case since the Wizarding world does on a rare occasion adopt Muggle technology (such as the use of armor by medieval wizards). But either way it suggests that either a) wizards adopted a very late technology or b) Hogwarts has a lot of flexibility in how it behaves and can even upgrade itself. So we either have a useful sociological data point or we have a data point about what Hogwarts is capable of doing.

Comment author: drethelin 30 August 2011 04:52:02AM 7 points [-]

Hogwarts also has modern plumbing, which was presumably not put in by hand considering whoever did it would've found the chamber of secrets in that one place they put a bathroom. I think we can safely assume it will grow new features.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 30 August 2011 12:49:55PM 4 points [-]

Hogwarts also has modern plumbing, which was presumably not put in by hand considering whoever did it would've found the chamber of secrets in that one place they put a bathroom. I think we can safely assume it will grow new features.

The magic level of the Chamber is sufficiently high that one could conceive of it using an equivalent of a high level Confundus charm on people so that they could install plumbing and yet not notice. But you have a good point and your explanation sounds simpler.

Comment author: Circusfacialdisc 29 August 2011 11:49:27PM 3 points [-]

Doesn't McGonnagall mention that the clocks in Hogwarts were most definitely invented by Muggles? That would be an additional datum in favor of this interpretation.

Comment author: wedrifid 04 September 2011 02:16:08PM 7 points [-]

So, what are the chances that Harry and Hermione start talking about their encounters with creepy stalkers? Harry could even say something smug and about how crazy it would be if he kept that sort of thing to himself. Or do we have to wait and watch it go bad first?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 29 August 2011 06:09:57PM 7 points [-]

I could have sworn that somewhere I saw a comment expressing surprise or disappointment at Snape being taken down so easily -- but I now can't locate the comment.

In case it was someone from here: It seems clear to me that it was Quirrel who both chose to reveal Snape's location, and of course he'd have also contributed to the volley of spells that quickly took down Snape's shield as well. It seems that Quirrel really didn't want Snape getting the situation back under control - and his presence was what Snape didn't anticipate.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 August 2011 07:56:54AM 7 points [-]

You can't raise and strengthen very much in the way of advanced shielding and be invisible at the same time, and massed fire from forty-four fifth-year through seventh-year wizards is nothing to sneeze at. Snape would have noticed Quirrell taking him out, but it wasn't necessary for Quirrell to do so.

Comment author: Raemon 29 August 2011 04:44:23PM 7 points [-]

What do people think about the interaction with Dumbledore? I got the sense that this was a chapter where we (the reader) are supposed to consider that Dumbledore may very well be wiser than Harry because he's got a century+ experience on fighting evil, but that because the chapter is from Harry's POV it doesn't read that way.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 29 August 2011 08:21:04PM 5 points [-]

I'd been meaning to raise that question, too.

Dumbledore is talking like a typical administrator from Mediocristan [1]. It's easier in the short run, and the medium run, and sometimes the rather long run, to tolerate bullying if you aren't subject to it. However, every once in a while, you get a civil rights movement or an Arab Spring.

On the other hand, Harry isn't exactly dealing in non-violence, and it's possible that his faith in the effectiveness of punishment is naive. I await further chapters.

[1]Nassim Taleb's name for the condition of being able to make pretty good predictions about tomorrow by simply saying that it will be like today.

Comment author: gjm 30 August 2011 09:52:09PM 3 points [-]

I don't quite understand why Harry didn't suggest to Dumbledore that if he's so concerned about further escalation by the bullies he should expel them. It's not as if that would be so difficult to justify. (Though there are a number of possible downsides.)

Comment author: shokwave 30 August 2011 11:27:37AM 3 points [-]

I think any reader with a few ounces of rationality should be spotting the obvious false dichotomy between Harry's "fight bullies" and Dumbledore's "don't fight bullies". I predict that by the end of the Self-Actualisation arc, Harry will have come to this realisation, potentially through discovering a third way to deal with bullies.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 30 August 2011 01:56:55PM 6 points [-]

Agreed. Harry's present approach seems to be turning bullies into a self-aware interest group.

Comment author: Raemon 30 August 2011 04:55:09PM 7 points [-]

Hermione's present approach (and perhaps, more importantly, Snape's involvement) seems to be turning bullies into a self-aware interest group. It remains to be seen whether Harry's help made things worse or better.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2011 05:18:21PM *  3 points [-]

He could make them into a self-aware interest group that is scared of him. Bullies understand force. What's that spell when you lift them upside down by the leg? I'd start by talking to Fred and George and seeing if they could get spells like that into a pre-packaged consumable form. And get some serious self defense training happening. Have there been any chapters so far on actual research based training methods for building skills? Or has Harry just been trying to 'clever' his way out of stuff?

A little crowd control doesn't seem like something Harry should have difficulty arranging.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 01 September 2011 02:50:15AM *  6 points [-]

Chapter 75 was sad but did have its funny parts.

I really liked:

Nice well-groomed boys get girls, and Dark Wizards also get girls, but nice well-groomed boys suspected of being secretly Dark get more girls than you can imagine -"

I do think that there is a serious problem with the scale of the problems that Harry is dealing with as opposed to those Hermione is dealing with it. It almost comes across as token feminism. The actual books have been criticized for that same thing but at least there Hermione got to actually deal with the same life-threatening issues that Harry did. I'm not sure what to think about this.

ETA: Is Harry's comments about asking for Hermione's permission supposed to be an implicit argument about whether a Friendly AI should ask us before it implements what it thinks our CEV is?

Comment author: NihilCredo 01 September 2011 03:51:11AM *  6 points [-]

Huh. My first thought was simply to argue that a work of fiction is rarely improved by attempting to make it meet certain moral standards; The Kreutzer Sonata isn't any less great for espousing despicable beliefs, and plenty of terrible novels inspire laudable ideas of human society. So, if artistic quality and moral quality are unrelated, better that an author write what comes from their heart rather than attempt to teach what they haven't yet interiorised themselves, and risk coming off as insincere or overzealous.

However, MoR is ostensibly meant to be an educational and inspirational story as much as an entertaining one, so in that particular light the suggestion carries more weight. Even so, it wasn't Eliezer's decision that the fated hero be male and the well-meaning-but-over-her-head companion be female. Perhaps more importantly, had Ron kept his canon role instead of being replaced by Draco, there would have been a second, male WMBOHH companion, Hermione's frustration would not have been framed in terms of perceived sexism in the first place, and there probably would not have been a S.P.H.E.W..

Comment author: Raemon 01 September 2011 05:02:13AM *  8 points [-]

However, MoR is ostensibly meant to be an educational and inspirational story as much as an entertaining one, so in that particular light the suggestion carries more weight. Even so, it wasn't Eliezer's decision that the fated hero be male and the well-meaning-but-over-her-head companion be female. Perhaps more importantly, had Ron kept his canon role instead of being replaced by Draco, there would have been a second, male WMBOHH companion, Hermione's frustration would not have been framed in terms of perceived sexism in the first place, and there probably would not have been a S.P.H.E.W..

I mostly agree with this. But with an extremely lengthy qualifier:

My take, as a storyteller, is that your collective work should meet your moral standards. (I mean, they're YOUR standards, your work should be meeting them, whatever they are). That doesn't mean jamming morals down people's throat, it doesn't mean making sure each work conveys every single positive thing you believe in. But I think it does mean that you should consider what impact your story might have on the people who read it, and given the chance, you should try to make that impact positive.

Some of my favorite stories are ones where the main character's judgment is obviously questionable. The Eisenhorn trilogy (from Warhammer 40k) is set in a world whose morality is completely orthogonal to mine. There is so much wrong with the Imperium of Man I don't know where to begin. (Basically imagine a medieval catholic church managing an entire galaxy). But the main character is not a 20th-century American reacting to his crazy world, he is a product of that crazy world. He does things I'd consider completely immoral in 20th century America, but I certainly wouldn't blame him for given his upbringing. In the face of a bizarre world, he makes choices, whose rightness and wrongness correspond to my notions in about the same way that pebble-sorters' choices would.

And by the end of the story, he might or might not have become incredibly deluded, so anything he 'learned' should not be taken as an Aesop.

Still, it's a story that deals DIRECTLY with morality, by completely ignoring what is actually right and focusing on the way humans make decisions in response to their environment. My reaction to the characters is an interesting sort of Rorschach test. I think a SF-loving conservative christian who read it would come away with completely different reactions to many key choices, but still enjoy it, feel like her "political/moral" neurons had been satisfyingly tickled, and not feel like the author was presenting an Argument To Attack/Agree-with.

This all makes it "moral," in my opinion.

So does the fact that it features a variety of characters of various skin colors, genders, and levels of disability. Most of them are powerful, flawed, and interesting. None of them draw attention to their non-white-male-able-bodied-status as a political thing you should care about. But I believe this has a (subtle) effect on people of helping to normalizing a wider spectrum of humanity (including, I should note, the idea of living for hundreds of years thanks to advanced science). Multiplied over multiple authors who bother to do this, and potentially millions of readers, I think this adds up to positive effect worth noting. (I don't know whether the author intentionally did this or not. I didn't even think about the disability angle until just now).

On an unrelated note, it's also a really fun, well crafted adventure story about a guy who hunts demons across the galaxy.

Moral and artistic value are mostly unrelated to each other. In general, it's more important to be a fun story to read than to be a moral story, because no one will read a moral story that isn't fun. But there is no reason you can't try for both. Most fun-but-not-moral stories could probably be improved morally in some way without harming the work.

It might require some skill on the author's part, and practicing to get better at it (without hamfisted metaphors) will probably result in a few bad stories while they get better. I think that's okay.

MoR happens to be a moral story in almost the opposite way that the Eisenhorn trilogy is. (That's fine - sometimes you want your message proudly displayed). The SPHEW section was a bit where I think Eliezer was stretching a bit, and it shows, but I'm confident there will be a net-benefit to Eliezer and the world at large due to that growth.

Comment author: Desrtopa 01 September 2011 03:36:10AM 4 points [-]

Harry isn't dealing with any life threatening issues now, except internally. I'd be surprised if the story reaches its conclusion without her being made aware of the issue of Voldemort and playing an active role in the conflict.

Comment author: hairyfigment 01 September 2011 05:26:10AM 2 points [-]

And he has dealt with bullying in past chapters (though he focused most on Snape's bullying). Harry and Hermione learned almost directly opposed lessons from the experience, both of which seem correct.

Comment author: Raemon 01 September 2011 04:07:23AM 9 points [-]

I've been pondering this. I was really glad when Hermione started getting to take the spotlight, and a lot of my appreciation was from a straight-forwardly-feminist perspective. I posted a mini review talking about how Hermione had been lacking as a character, the hints Eliezer had dropped about her future development, and my appreciation for the way he eventually handled it. Apparently this comment played a role in Eliezer coming up with the SPHEW acryonym. I'm not sure if it ended up otherwise shaping the arc. He also noted that the initial setup (where Dumbledore basically tells Hermione she can't be a hero because she just can't) was intended to be a critique, but not about feminist issues.

A few months later, I think this section is an interesting case study in meta-token-feminism. I think that Eliezer in general agrees with most goals of the movement, but is probably actually opposed to token feminism. (This is based off of a few vague statements he made, I'm only 65% confident). I also think that SPHEW was originally intended to sort of lampshade the issue, addressing some real issues but in a tongue-in-cheek way. (The issues - mostly about the power imbalance that he created between Hermione and Harry - aren't inherently feminist-oriented, but they happened to interact with the gender dynamics of the original story in a way that made attempt to fix them look like token feminism. I think it could have been pulled off it a much subtler way, but in general MoR isn't particularly subtle anyway. (Or rather, it IS subtle, but you can't hear the subtlety over the sound of how awesome Harry is, unless you're actually looking for it).

And then it turned out to be a lot harder to write than he thought and it dragged on for a long time which made it seem even more long and intense than it actually was. If we were reading this story through all at once, I think the section would still be long, but wouldn't have generated the complaints it's gotten.

The important thing to remember about all of this is that this entire segment takes place before the end of year one. Hermione just leveled up dramatically. Yes, Harry got a surprise visit to Azkaban, but I'm pretty sure by the time year one ends, she and Harry will be participating side by side against serious, life threatening issues.

By the end of the section, I'm less worried about how the gender issues played out and more concerned about how the "Hermione and friends are level-grinding by picking fights with bullies" vibe.

Regardless, I think MoR definitely needed a less serious intermission before the next Dark Serious Thing, and I think some over-the-top token feminism and silly level-grinding isn't too bad a way to do that if it is also addresses some issues with the character-power-dynamics. It would definitely feel out of place in a traditional novel, but with the TV-series pacing, it's an okay diversion.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 09 September 2011 03:39:59AM 4 points [-]

by the time year one ends, she and Harry will be participating side by side against serious, life threatening issues.

Absolutely not.

Draco will be in between them.

Comment author: Raemon 09 September 2011 02:24:20PM 4 points [-]

I'm pretty positive Draco and Hermione will be flanking him.

Comment author: pedanterrific 09 September 2011 03:48:53AM *  4 points [-]

Dramiorry: OT3 for lyfe.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 September 2011 05:51:42AM *  4 points [-]

I'm totally shipping that threesome. And wondering just what their parents would say about it.

Comment author: ahartell 31 August 2011 02:10:00PM 6 points [-]

Does it say anywhere in HP:MoR that Tonks is a metamorphmagus? I can't remember if it does and there were some reviewers (presumably who didn't read the original series) confused by her ability to imitate Susan without polyjuice poison.

Comment author: Factitious 01 September 2011 05:18:25PM 2 points [-]

She's not definitely called out as Tonks, and I'm not sure the years match up, but from chapter 29:

"Did you know there's a fourth-year girl in Hufflepuff who's a Metamorphmagus?" said Hermione as they headed toward the Great Hall. "She makes her hair really red, like stopsign red not Weasley red, and when she spilled hot tea on herself she turned into a black-haired boy until she got it under control again."

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 05 September 2011 07:05:41AM 8 points [-]

I've just decided to eliminate the "fourth-year" qualifier. I'd previously meant Ranma to be separate from Tonks, but on reflection it's kind of funnier if she is Ranma. More importantly, I want Metamorphmagi to be rarer and more unexpected than if two different ones are attending Hogwarts at the same time.

Comment author: Zack_M_Davis 01 September 2011 05:26:10PM 6 points [-]

I think that's supposed to be a Ranma 1/2 reference.

Comment author: ahartell 01 September 2011 05:26:42PM *  3 points [-]

My understanding is that Tonks is a seventh year.

"Sign up for the Auror preparation program in your sixth year," said Susan. "It's the next best thing. Oh, and if a famous Auror offers to oversee your summer internship, just ignore anyone who warns you that he's a terrible influence or that you're almost certainly going to die."

Edit: And what Zack said.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 04 September 2011 05:37:26PM 3 points [-]

Definitely a seventh year:

"Miss Granger is selling them for two Sickles, and tells me that she has so far sold fifty of them. I believe that Nymphadora Tonks, in seventh-year Hufflepuff, is enchanting them for her."

Ch 70, referring to the SPHEW buttons.

Comment author: Desrtopa 30 August 2011 03:21:14AM 6 points [-]

Dumbledore says that there are only three wizards in Hogwarts powerful enough to pull off what happened in chapter 74, and names Snape among them, but my impression from the original novels wasn't that Snape was exceptionally powerful among the professors of Hogwarts. He was definitely extremely formidable compared to the average wizard (one thing that I thought added verisimilitude to the books was that it was frequently shown that ordinary adult wizards frequently aren't very competent at magic aside from the few things they use regularly; think how many adults in real life don't understand or know how to apply much of the material that you're supposed to have to learn in order to get through high school,) but it seemed that many of the professors of Hogwarts were on the same level. He and McGonagall duelled in the last book, and it seemed like McGonagall had the upper hand. Plus, Flitwick was a former duelling champion, so I imagine he's pretty powerful as well. Snape is the most knowledgeable person in Hogwarts about the dark arts after Quirrelmort (who he probably learned at least a bit from,) but if I had to guess the most powerful professor after Quirrel, it would have been one of those two.

On a side note, I have to wonder if Quirrelmort has any idea about Snape's betrayal of him? What he's doing might just be messing around and showing up one of his former servants, or it might be part of a protracted vengeace.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2011 04:52:03AM 6 points [-]

Let's not forget that Cannon!Snape was writing instructions for sectumsempra in the margins of his potions textbook when he was a child - a textbook he incidentally rewrote while he was taking the class. Since then he has been rubbing shoulders with Voldemort and Dumbledore. That said he is more powerful than McGonagall then something has changed rather drastically. That girl is badass.

I have to agree that 'only three' is surprising. Dumbledore himself and Quirrel leave only one extra spot...

Comment author: Desrtopa 30 August 2011 05:05:34AM 5 points [-]

Cannon!Snape is definitely badass, but I always figured that given Hogwarts' eminent reputation and the size of their faculty, their standards for anyone holding a professorship are probably extremely high, barring positions people don't want to fill (Defense Against the Dark Arts and possibly Care of Magical Creatures) and pity jobs like Trelawney.

In a setting where the academic and practical are so closely intertwined, I imagine holding professorship at Hogwarts as being something like being a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Green Beret combined, probably topped off with an Eagle Scout.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 August 2011 05:42:47AM 4 points [-]

It is a damn high bar and I think you mentioned the big players. Dumbledore -> McGonagall is easy. Then it is Snape vs Flittwick for No.3. It wouldn't seem unreasonable to place Snape higher than the gnome illusionist given that Snape is the one with dark secrets that no doubt include all sorts of badass juice. The problem with the '3' figure in MoR is that Quirrel comes in as a wild card and you would be reckless place him anywhere below second. And as you say, Snape > McGonagall doesn't seem right!

Comment author: hairyfigment 30 August 2011 05:41:44AM 3 points [-]

it seemed like McGonagall had the upper hand.

I don't know -- even in canon, Snape didn't want to win that fight.

But this does leave me slightly confused about his apparent stunning just now.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 August 2011 08:08:06AM 11 points [-]

Right. In canon, Snape didn't want to win that fight. Also in canon, Snape is the only wizard besides Voldemort who can fly without a broomstick, although the movie subverts this. One also notes that a half-blood was accepted into the Death Eaters and presumably not for his wealth or family connections. More to the point, in MoR there's a sharper distinction between powerful wizards and non-powerful ones; powerful wizards have taken an interest in ancient riddles, they have delved into secrets, they have found sources of lore that cannot be learned from books. Professor McGonagall knows a hell of a lot about Transfiguration, but she hasn't gone down that road.

Even so, the gap between a "powerful wizard" like Snape and, say, Dumbledore, is rather large. Dumbledore strolls through Amelia Bones's wards like they were water, and Bones, in this fic, is an ancient and experienced witch. Forty-four simultaneous strikes from upper-year Hogwarts students will definitely bring down Madam Bones, maybe even if she does have time to reinforce and strengthen her shields. Dumbledore would wave the Elder Wand, once.

Comment author: AlexMennen 28 August 2011 10:45:38PM *  6 points [-]

I always wondered when/if Harry would figure out that the way magic works is evidence for the simulation argument. I just started rereading the old chapters, and found this in chapter 14:

You know right up until this moment I had this awful suppressed thought somewhere in the back of my mind that the only remaining answer was that my whole universe was a computer simulation like in the book Simulacron 3 but now even that is ruled out because this little toy [the time turner] ISN'T TURING COMPUTABLE!

I think his assumption that this rules out the simulation argument is misguided. Assume you have a universe that can compute things that a Turing machine cannot. Shouldn't people in this universe be able to build computers that can also compute things that a Turing machine cannot, since it would be built using their universe's physics?

Consider: The Time-Travel Turing machine (TTTM). This is just like a normal Turing machine, except it has two additional commands that can appended to state definitions: The 'accept' command simply marks that, at this point, all the bits to the right of the TTTM's position on the tape may be changed by an agent other than the current TTTM. The 'send' command copies all bits to the right of the TTTM on the tape, sends them back in time to the last 'accept' command, and puts them to the right of where the TTTM was then. TTTMs constructed such that no stable time loop is possible will just stop after encountering the first 'accept' command. All others go into stable time loops.

A TTTM could be used to simulate a world with time-travel that works that way, and you should be able to make one in a world with time-travel that works that way. Essentially, this means that if Harry is in a simulation, then the real world isn't Turing computable either. He could still be in a simulation, though.

Note (not related to my main point): A TTTM has the disadvantage of not being able to have time loops inside time loops, since it can't send anything back in time to before the last time it encountered the 'accept' command. One way of remedying this is by requiring that signals be sent longer ago than the previous step; if an 'accept' command is immediately followed by a 'send' command, the signal will go the second-last 'accept' instead. That way, the first bit to the right of the TTTM can be used to determine whether or not to chain the rest of the signal farther back. This formulation may have its own problems, though. I suddenly find the problems of how best to formulate a TTTM and what all it could do to be very interesting.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 01 September 2011 01:51:21PM 4 points [-]

There's actually, unless I've made a stupid mistake, an even better algorithm that is Truing computable, if very slow:

every time the value of a bit may depend on future events, split the universe and calculate both possibilities. If a branch ever implies a paradox prune that branch and pretend it never happened.

Actually, while this indeed would require a ludicrous amount of branching for an universe where arbitrary chunks of matter can be transported back to any given plank time, all those branches would need to be computed anyway for MWI quantum mechanics. So all you're really doing is tweaking the MEASURE of each branch.

Comment author: AlexMennen 01 September 2011 07:31:47PM 2 points [-]

Hm... sounds right. This also has the fairly disturbing implication that, while people only ever remember consistent time loops, the distribution of mind-moments currently experiencing time loops is not weighted towards consistency, and thus most of them cease to exist as soon as the time travel event fails to happen in a way that would have formed a consistent loop.

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 August 2011 10:56:26PM *  5 points [-]

It's also an invalid conclusion for other reasons. Harry hasn't actually done anything uncomputable with a time turner, and the one occasion that he came close (trying something computable but slow), all that he got for his pains was ‘DO NOT MESS WITH TIME’. It's very easy to compute this.

Even if Harry does something that seems uncomputable, that proves nothing [ETA: although of course it is evidence and Harry's estimate of simulation should go down in accordance with Bayes's Rule], since he only observes finitely many experiments, and any finite result is (trivially) computable. It's always possible that the system could break down when you push it further. (Presumably it has an error catcher that outputs ‘DO NOT MESS WITH TIME’ when this happens.)

As far as we know, the real world is computable, and it's computed this story. Therefore nothing in it is definitely uncomputable.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2011 02:26:35AM *  6 points [-]

Presumably it has an error catcher that outputs ‘DO NOT MESS WITH TIME’ when this happens.

That message came from Harry, not from physics. Roughly speaking it indicates that a stable loop where Harry gets hysterical is easier to arrive at than a stable loop where the problem is solved. ie. In one of the instances something surprising and dangerous but non-fatal (would have) happened so that (potential) Harry would have set up a stable time loop that prevented that branch from ever happening. (Or maybe Harry just went paranoid for no reason - hard to tell with him.)

Comment author: AlexMennen 28 August 2011 11:05:07PM *  5 points [-]

Hm... that is also true. Sufficiently restricted time travel should be computable. Not sure how restricted it would have to be. A sufficiently good computable approximation could conceivably have fooled a wizarding society that did not use the scientific method.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 27 August 2011 12:06:00AM *  6 points [-]

I'd like to warn of a slight ambiguity in the stated commitment Eliezer made in this latest chapter. I'm especially worried that since money are involved, some people may feel cheated if the pledge isn't clarified ASAP and it ends up being the weaker form of the pledge.

"I will release completed chapters every X days" -- does it mean that the chapters that are currently completed, will be released one every X days? How many chapters are those? Or does it mean Eliezer pledges to complete and release a chapter on such a schedule for the remaining duration of HP:MoR?

If it's the stronger form of the pledge, I doubt anyone will complain -- though I'm a bit skeptical that it's wise to make a promise as hard as "a chapter every three days".

Comment author: Yvain 27 August 2011 12:07:54PM *  16 points [-]

<whiny nitpicking complaint>

I donated, because it was a good reminder that I should be donating anyway, but the reward kind of leaves me cold. If Eliezer writes new chapters after 78 at a constant rate while publishing existing chapters, then if he publishes all his existing chapters really quickly he won't get many new chapters done in the interim and we'll have to wait a longer time after 78 for 79. If he publishes existing chapters slowly, he'll have 79 done by the time he gets to 78, and can publish those at a steady rate while working on 80+.

So instead of donating to get more total HPatMOR, donations change the pacing away from "slow and steady" and toward "quick burst of chapters now, then a longer interval", with the end date of the fic not changing at all. Personally, I would prefer the steadier pacing.

</whiny nitpicking complaint>

Comment author: shokwave 29 August 2011 01:57:26PM *  6 points [-]

If Eliezer writes new chapters after 78 at a constant rate while publishing existing chapters

For human-psychological reasons I expect that "the drive to complete more chapters" will become appreciable pretty much the moment 78 is published (and not much before).

Even if I am wrong, I don't think "writes at a constant rate" is a safe assumption to make about Eliezer's fiction writing. (This is, of course, tongue in cheek.)

Comment author: lessdazed 29 August 2011 06:44:56AM *  11 points [-]

The obvious solution is for Eliezer to set up a second fund, donations to which slow down the release of chapters.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2011 07:20:06AM 4 points [-]

Perhaps a fund which actually increases the net MoR chapters written. For, you know, the MoR readers who actually picked up some hints of rationality during their reading.

Comment author: lessdazed 29 August 2011 07:34:20AM 2 points [-]

If that existed, it'd be more work, and it would siphon money from the first (two) fund(s).

Comment author: MatthewBaker 29 August 2011 05:12:26AM 2 points [-]

Oh Yvain, thank you for posting this so i didn't feel the urge to nitpick.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 August 2011 05:58:27AM 8 points [-]

I thought the part about "hopefully Ch. 78 will be finished by the time the Interlude is posted" ought to clearly imply that the schedule only applies until I run out of completed chapters.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 27 August 2011 07:32:25AM 11 points [-]

I just recommend that you edit the text of the promise to make it crystal clear. It's best not to leave any ambiguity in such matters.

Comment author: Emile 27 August 2011 06:17:35PM 5 points [-]

I had interpreted it literally, as meaning "indefinitely", and had even reread the sentence to make sure. I'm probably not the only one.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 August 2011 07:10:59PM 4 points [-]

Duly noted!

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 August 2011 10:50:20PM 15 points [-]

At the secret inner double-witch school, everyone's most concerned with figuring out who the top-secret super-inner triple-witches are.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 August 2011 07:57:37AM 13 points [-]

The thought had occurred to me. And if you were a double witch, wouldn't you think it was pretty darned plausible that there were triple witches?

Comment author: Psy-Kosh 30 August 2011 05:04:55PM 14 points [-]

I want to be a first-uncountable-ordinal wizard. :)

Comment author: Solvent 30 August 2011 08:39:42AM 6 points [-]

I'm reminded of the concept of information cascades: With every new level of witchness discovered, the probability of the next one increases.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 30 August 2011 05:18:44PM *  7 points [-]

There's a limit though since we have a decent estimate for how many wizards and witches there are in the world. That gives a strict upper bound on the total number of levels unless some of the levels are completely empty, tthat is something like every 12th level witch is also a 13th level witch. And if that's the case it isn't clear why the levels are being countered separately.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 31 August 2011 08:07:12AM 5 points [-]

If there are much more powerful levels of magic, our estimate of the number of witches could be wildly off.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 04 September 2011 01:03:34PM *  5 points [-]

In recent chapters I've been agreeing more with Dumbledore overall than with Harry. Not on everything (Dumbledore probably should do more to prevent bullying), but Harry's general attitude seems pretty foolish. It might work out ok for him - he's got the author on his side and lives in a world with extraordinary quantities of low-hanging fruit. But I'm not sure if he's a good role model for those of us stuck in the real world.

Comment author: wedrifid 04 September 2011 02:56:15PM *  9 points [-]

It might work out ok for him - he's got the author on his side

I say the opposite. The spiraling negative consequences for standing up to petty bullying are utterly absurd in scope and even in direction. And either Dumbledore is totally miscalibrated regarding the importance of house points or the world is even more artificially hostile. A civil war because an 11 year old girl didn't lose fifty house points as well as the detention she got as punishment for being attacked by 44 students? When, mind you, Lucious's son had been backing Hermione himself? That's just absolutely absurd.

I don't necessarily agree with Harry's eagerness to start targetting powerful non-Hogwarts adults with schemes but the "ask teacher to stop girls being severely beaten" was a no-brainer.

Smartest thing said in the entire chapter:

"You shouldn't be Headmaster," Harry said through the burning in his throat. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but you shouldn't try to be a school principal and run a war at the same time. Hogwarts shouldn't be part of this."

Comment author: orthonormal 09 September 2011 04:31:34AM 6 points [-]

Smartest thing said in the entire chapter:

"You shouldn't be Headmaster," Harry said through the burning in his throat. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, but you shouldn't try to be a school principal and run a war at the same time. Hogwarts shouldn't be part of this."

Note the implications of the obvious analogy for EY, although not everything an author sets up his characters to say has to be an allegory.

Comment author: hairyfigment 05 September 2011 03:51:45AM 6 points [-]

I tried to say this before, but apparently it got lost in my bad expression: civil war and other bad outcomes seem vastly more credible if they happen to serve Quirrell's goals. And some of them would.

Harry's mistake doesn't lie in going against Dumbledore, I think. It lies in failing to update the probability of Quirrell indirectly killing someone to manipulate Harry, based on Azkaban.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 04 September 2011 06:23:46PM *  4 points [-]

A civil war because an 11 year old girl didn't lose fifty house points as well as the detention she got as punishment for being attacked by 44 students? When, mind you, Lucious's son had been backing Hermione himself? That's just absolutely absurd.

The wizarding community in Magical Britain is pretty close to civil war in general. The community is small so small scale results can have larger impact, and Hogwarts is the only magic school in Britain so people pay more attention. Moreover, the wizarding world has a lot of values based on medieval ideas. In Roman times people fought wars over chariot team winners. In modern times that's translated into wars about football.

The idea that discipline issues could be a significant enough dispute to push them over the brink is not implausible.

Comment author: Nominull 04 September 2011 05:56:33PM 4 points [-]

"utterly absurd" except that someone was plotting behind the scenes. It was spiraling out control only because somebody kept pushing it around in a circle.

I guess the question is "who". We know that Snape was involved in this scheme somehow, so he'd be the parsimonious choice, but it doesn't seem to fit his goal system.

Comment author: Bugmaster 09 September 2011 06:56:26AM 3 points [-]

The recent conversations Harry has with Dumbledore seem to imply that Harry is becoming what tvtropes calls a Knight Templar: a zealot who is willing to burn villages in order to save them. Such a person will very easily commit great evils in the name of "The Greater Good" (whatever that may be). I agree with Dumbledore on this. Harry has no brakes; he is willing to escalate his counterattacks without limit, collateral damage be damned. This may not technically count as "Dark" according to the dichotomy set up in the narrative, but it's still a completely evil way to act.

Comment author: TobyBartels 09 September 2011 02:30:53PM 3 points [-]

Harry is becoming what tvtropes calls a Knight Templar

Or a Totalitarian Utilitarian.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 04 September 2011 04:55:23PM *  3 points [-]

Dumbledore's depiction reminds the confessor in three worlds collide. He mentions that there are very few humans who need help to be more optimistic, and his experience leads him to see all the ways that things can go wrong, so makes him suited for being rational. Similarly with Dumbledore, his experiences have made him highly risk averse, often to good, but it does result in him being unwilling to change things. (As a contrast to the more reckless/innovative Harry).

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 04 September 2011 10:25:11AM *  5 points [-]

Ah, so that's why her arm was aching. I could have got that, if only I were better at noticing my own confusion. Tsuyoku naritai!

Comment author: NihilCredo 31 August 2011 08:01:30PM *  5 points [-]

Hah, the little details you catch on a re-read:

the bolts struck and vanished upon a dark red octagon that appeared in the air

(Hammertime!)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 01 September 2011 04:18:36AM 5 points [-]

A.T. Field. What do you mean, Hammertime?

Comment author: NihilCredo 01 September 2011 04:55:39AM *  14 points [-]

https://secure.flickr.com/photos/z6p6tist6/501709581/

... you know, it's kind of impressive that you meant to make a nerdy reference through something which could have been so utterly everyday and mundane that it would still have been funny precisely because of how everyday and Muggle it is.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 01 September 2011 07:23:03AM 8 points [-]

On at least three occasions in this fic that I can think of offhand, people have confidently identified references which seemed very clear and obvious and fitting after I looked them up, despite the fact that I hadn't the slightest idea of what I was "referring" to at the time. It is enough to expand my concept of coincidence.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 01 September 2011 11:55:57AM 4 points [-]

What's your current concept of coincidence?

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 09 September 2011 01:33:01PM 4 points [-]
Comment author: DanPeverley 30 August 2011 01:31:46AM 4 points [-]

Quirrel is starting to get antsy... things are going to become very interesting once his term as Battle Magic professor is over. The Tracy girl... I don't like her. This is not to say I don't like the writing associated with her (great for comic relief, I'll EAT YOUR SOUL), it may have to do more with her being a vapid girl character in "competition" (within her own mind, anyway) with a smart, eminently likable Hermione Granger... I believe I may be in serious danger of becoming one of those shipper people.

Comment author: Michaelos 02 September 2011 06:10:57PM 5 points [-]

This isn't necessarily a "competition" that anyone has to lose. Harry could always take a third option and attempt to make a rationalist polyhack on the problem. He's shown the ability to get along well magically with more than one different person and it doesn't seem likely that he would distance himself from one if history had shown he could use their help for important tasks. Also, my understanding is that Harry hates disappointing people. Considering that, it's a little hard to imagine him turning down Tracy without at least considering a way to keep them both her and Hermione happy simultaneously. It would also come in handy in the future if the story extends long enough for him to meet Luna Lovegood.

And the fact that I think this would be an idea that I would really like to read now that I have thought of it seems like pretty good evidence that I am shipping.

Comment author: mstevens 26 August 2011 08:23:57AM *  4 points [-]

Two ideas that came to me overnight:

  • Fred and George convinced Rita Skeeter by... not convincing RIta Skeeter. Someone polyjuiced as her went to the Daily Prophet offices announcing their amazing new story.

  • Eventually someone will be an animagus who turns into a human. Probably not Harry, as it would seem repetitive for him to have both a human patronus and a human animagus form.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 27 August 2011 01:16:22AM 9 points [-]

Eventually someone will be an animagus who turns into a human.

That seems like it would just be a much weaker form of Metamorphmagus; and as such, largely uninteresting.

Comment author: mstevens 27 August 2011 04:51:18PM 2 points [-]

Possibly, although I think EY might well go for it as a good abuse of the rules, and I'm sure he could find a way to make it interesting.

Comment author: Sheaman3773 31 August 2011 04:31:34PM 4 points [-]

"I'm not serious!"

Comment author: Document 31 August 2011 09:43:25PM 2 points [-]

On the subject of abuses of the rules, I briefly considered the idea of a Patronus that could cast Patronuses, before remembering the bit about it draining Harry's magic.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 27 August 2011 08:09:05PM 3 points [-]

Or it was Tonks or another metamorphagus?

Comment author: fubarobfusco 25 August 2011 05:44:45AM 30 points [-]

While I like that Hermione is getting her own story-arc, there's something about the "Self-Actualization" arc that really doesn't work for me.

It's increasingly seemed as if "bullies" are being portrayed as an interest group or even a subculture: In MoR, it seems like bullies think of themselves as bullies, and stand up for the common interests of their group by perpetuating bullying as a social institution and singling out for attack those who have challenged other bullies. Even if those other bullies are of a different House, year, or social circle.

This makes Hogwarts' bullies out to be an Evil League of Evil, a cross-House union of Bad Guys who know they're Bad Guys. But at the same time we're expected as readers to take Hogwarts bullying to be some kind of mirror of ordinary real-world school bullying, which doesn't exactly work that way.

The idea of bullies standing up for bullying as an institution, or even thinking of themselves as bullies, reminds me too much of the scene in one of Kevin Smith's movies in which it is revealed that streetcorner drug dealers are unionized.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 August 2011 06:51:34AM 19 points [-]

That doesn't sound wildly different from the online troll subculture.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 25 August 2011 01:11:43PM *  28 points [-]

Yeah, the I've enjoyed the arc well enough, and there were some great bits in this chapter, but it's been a bit small-potatoes compared to some of what's come before, and there's definitely a sense of "just how many bullies are there at Hogwarts, anyway?". It's almost like SPHEW is literally grinding bullies for XP.

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 August 2011 10:09:09PM 6 points [-]

How about, SPHEW is inspiring bullies to declare themselves, or non-bullies to become bullies, for the challenge of battling SPHEW? (I'd like this hypothesis better if the bullies weren't older, since even acknowledging first-years as a challenge is quite a status hit.)

Comment author: wedrifid 29 August 2011 02:31:44AM 3 points [-]

From the sounds of this I might have to start reading MoR again. So Hermione doesn't start knitting for house elves, instead she goes around beating the crap through bullies? That's awesome.

Comment author: drethelin 25 August 2011 03:29:34PM 21 points [-]

I can agree with your sentiment but there's plenty of evidence from canon that bullying is seriously endemic to Hogwarts, not to mention the Morcanon point of view where slytherins have found themselves gaining status predominantly from racism against and bullying of mudbloods/hufflepuffs. The entire hogwarts system could almost seem to be DESIGNED to generate ingroup/outgroup hostility in huge amounts to layer on top of the basic cliquishness and age-based splitting of regular school.

also, it's strongly implied in this chapter that the enemies hermione is making now are NOT fighting her because they think of themselves as bullies, but because they view themselves as proud slytherins/griffyndors, and see hermione insulting their entire houses.

Comment author: Konkvistador 27 August 2011 10:11:39AM *  5 points [-]

from racism against and bullying of mudbloods/hufflepuffs

I don't really think racism is the right word here. Well at least no more than say classism (in general reading HP its very hard to miss the obvious parallels between the divide among muggles and wizards and the class divisions there).

Comment author: Bugmaster 25 August 2011 06:36:31AM 4 points [-]

Are you talking specifically about the bully whom the SPHEW took out (barely) ? Because I'm pretty sure that particular individual was deliberately proclaiming himself to be a bully in order to provoke Hermione's attack. Hermione figured it out, too, but just a second too late...

Comment author: Spurlock 01 September 2011 02:44:02PM 2 points [-]

My impression was that there wasn't a League of Bullies, but that SPHEW might have brought one into existence.

That is, while most of them might not proudly label themselves "bullies", they share a common quality: people who have been embarassed by Granger & co. As it became clear that they would need to band together to redeem themselves, a loose coalition was formed.

So I think of it simply as a bunch of otherwise unaffiliated individuals realizing that they have a common problem and goal, and temporarily banding together to achieve it. Which seems at least more plausible.

Comment author: TobyBartels 02 September 2011 02:42:06PM 3 points [-]

Right, they're not the league of bullies; they're the league of innocent people slanderously identified as bullies by SPHEW (the LIPSIBS).

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2011 04:57:58PM *  7 points [-]

RE: Chapter 75.

Harry is usually rather good avoiding making reckless commitments but he seems to have thrown that caution away. I refer here, of course, to the non-interference treaty he proposed with Hermione. When it comes to things like becoming a ghost-whispering Hermione's rivals that is all well and good. That's Hermione's business. But if there is one scenario we can expect the treaty to cover - informally specified as it is - is that which prompted its very creation.

  • Asking the other girls if they wanted protection was more than just an excuse. If Harry was entirely unaware of the existence of Hermione he would have most certainly have protected one of his loyal Chaos soldiers.
  • Without Tracy's involvement there is still no way he would have allowed 4 first year girls be beaten by 44 assorted thugs led by Snape if there was anything he could do about it.
  • Without the remaining 4 first year girls immediate safety threatened he still would have taken the same actions purely for the sake of the massive impact it would have on the culture of violence and bullying.
  • Even if he wasn't an obsessive altruist trying to Change The World he still would have done it so that people don't get it into their heads that interfering do-gooder first years with far too much success to their name than their strength warrants can be crushed with the simple application of force in moderate numbers.

If situations such as this one are encountered in the future then Harry has lost the freedom to do what seems fundamental to Harry. Not just in regards to Hermione specifically but to anyone who has the misfortune of being in her Aura of ImPotence. He will, unless Hermione's ego happens to be sane that day, let barrages of fire and pain fall freely up that which he (supposedly) Protects.

Harry has been wondering with incomprehension how a community could endorse unjust cruelty and violence. He has self righteously condemned those who go along and do nothing. Yet now he should begin to see the temptation. He has just conceded to allow groups of ten year old girls to be beaten, permanently injured and possibly killed lest he step into the political territory claimed by an ally and with the hope that by doing so he will - in the future when they are physically capable of it - get laid! Now Harry is starting to act like a Grown Up.

I don't suggest opening with "woulda dun it anywayz" would be a particularly wise conversation move but do assert that the deal he made here would have been far more appropriate to make when Harry was interfering with Hermione, not with something more general that also included her. In this case it deserved at least a pithy one sentence disclaimer. Which is far less than the multi-point verbal contracts he has spoken up every other time he made a deal.

I would read more into it if I didn't think this was the Author forcing in a deep conversation that he thought through earlier into this situation without thinking the details through clearly. Where by 'more' I probably mean "like the above except not being flippant". It only becomes in ernest if (or when) Eliezer interjects and declares the commitment with its undisclaimed recklessness canon.

Comment author: moridinamael 01 September 2011 08:51:03PM 11 points [-]

Led by Snape? I relatively certain that Snape engineered this entire scenario from the get-go to cause the situation to escalate to the point that the school would have to crack down hard on bullying. Snape just arranged it in such a way that he could get what he wanted and still come off looking like the bad guy. Snape is, in fact, fanatically anti-bullying.

Comment author: wedrifid 02 September 2011 03:39:37AM *  3 points [-]

Snape is, in fact, fanatically anti-bullying.

Good point. I have no idea what Snape is thinking (to be honest I glaze over at Snape parts). I guess he is anti-bullying except when done by people he likes to people he doesn't like?

Comment author: rdb 03 September 2011 03:43:49AM 4 points [-]

I'm probably missing an <irony> tag, but consider the evidence.

  • Dumbledore told Harry that Quirrell intervened so Daphne could take down Astorga
  • As I understand it, all the bullies have been under Snape's tutelage, their entire Hogwarts careers, with the Slytherin bullies having had him as head of house.
  • Prof. Sprout was warned off after dealing with Slytherin bullies on Harry's first day

Quirrell's "they have tolerated worse in their hallways" and give a finger from my wand hand, suggest that bullying has been tolerated for a long time.

What are Snape's adult motives and goals? How much of a panopticon is Hogwarts or House Slytherin there? When he tasked 7th-year Rianne Felthorne, presumably with sending the message back via Bullstrode, she lost count of the charms cast and didn't show recognition of them. Harry would have recognized them from Bester and Quirrell. Hogwarts is a centre of power, perhaps funds his Potions research and precautions againts Voldemort's return. Is conditioning Hogwarts students to fear him defending his future position or building a power base.

Are Dumbledore & Snape treating Quirrell as a bird in the hand, under close observation - Bellatrix's escape is still under investigation after all. Who set up the ambush outside the library? Snape or Quirrell? 2PM is too early for Harry's Time-Turner unless the shield was circumvented. Was testing for The cloak of Invisibility a hint from Snape?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 02 September 2011 12:10:11AM 2 points [-]

But wasn't the point of the chapter's end that didn't crack down on the bullying, but just on SPHEW?

I don't know what Snape gained by all the escalation he engineered.

Comment author: moridinamael 02 September 2011 02:40:40AM 14 points [-]

My pet theory is that every display of anger Snape ever makes in MOR is part of his act. In fact, the only two genuine displays of emotions we've seen have been his private smile after chewing out Jaime Astorga and his involuntary smile when Harry accused Dumbledore of being a Nazgul. (Snape is the secret Xanatos behind Self Actualization, which is why both Dumbledore and Quirrel keep acting surprised when people assume they're involved.)

Everything actually went according to his plan, except, possibly, being revealed from his Disillusionment as he shadowed the SPHEW members to the ambush. And he DID crack down on all the bullying, he threatened the Slytherins with horrors in private before he publicly punished Hermione.

This is a masterstroke on his part because it removes all incentive the Slytherins and bullies at large might have to seek vengeance against Hermione; she's already being punished severely. The bullies are shamed and fearful, and the one who shamed them is cowed as well. Equilibrium is restored. Hermione pays the price, but it is a fair price, as far as Snape is concerned.

Comment author: smk 07 September 2011 05:00:37PM 3 points [-]

It was Snape that Harry called a Nazgul.

Comment author: TobyBartels 02 September 2011 03:33:02PM 3 points [-]

In your theory, what was Snape's original plan with the 44 bullies before Quirrell interfered at Harry's request?

Comment author: moridinamael 03 September 2011 02:49:23AM 2 points [-]

Snape's original plan was to let the bullies beat the crap out of the girls, then Dumbledore would be forced to confront the issue directly. Quirrel may have even been the one who revealed Snape's invisibility just to embarrass him.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 05 September 2011 01:54:40PM 4 points [-]

Now that you mention it, that promise does seem rather off-balance compared to Harry's usual standards.

Boring hypothesis: He's falling in love with Hermione.

Interesting hypothesis: He started out very isolated. His family wasn't abusive, but he didn't connect to anyone. Now he's having to navigate having personal connections, and it's harder for him to make abstractly good choices.

Comment author: Nominull 01 September 2011 08:13:00PM 6 points [-]

Harry trusts Hermione. Or Harry finds the idea of failing to signal trust in Hermione even more abhorrent than possibly abandoning the girls to their fates. He needs Hermione to keep his ego sane, whether or not she's guaranteed to be able to keep her ego sane. Saying "I will override you rather than ask you for your opinion" is saying "I will be right and you will be wrong, when we disagree." That's a foolhardy claim for him to make. Hermione stopped him from doing Mad Transmutation Science without so much as doing the magical equivalent of wearing safety goggles, she's an important check to keeping his ego from driving him straight off a cliff.

Comment author: wedrifid 02 September 2011 02:29:33AM *  2 points [-]

Or Harry finds the idea of failing to signal trust in Hermione even more abhorrent than possibly abandoning the girls to their fates.

Exactly. Now he should begin to see why most people in magical Britain allow Azkaban to go on, without protest.

I suggest that Harry could perhaps have managed to send a good signal - possibly even a better and visibly more sincere signal - by making his commitment with something like his typical discretion.

Comment author: orthonormal 03 September 2011 06:48:17PM 2 points [-]

Harry is usually rather good avoiding making reckless commitments but he seems to have thrown that caution away. I refer here, of course, to the non-interference treaty he proposed with Hermione.

Really? His commitment to Draco regarding Dumbledore is at least as reckless.

Comment author: wedrifid 03 September 2011 07:01:22PM *  4 points [-]

That is exactly what springs to mind as an example of how Harry usually goes about making commitments. In that case he was sane enough to mention all of 5 disclaimers, and at a time when Draco was more emotionally destabilized than Hermione is here. I suggest he could have managed to casually include just one this time.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 05 September 2011 06:33:42AM 5 points [-]

Wrote the quadruple-disclaimerized version of that conversation, deleted the disclaimers because it didn't flow as writing. Justification: Harry finds it very easy to imagine that Hermione is just as terrified of losing control as he is, even though that's not quite what's going on at the other end.

Comment author: TobyBartels 05 September 2011 08:31:04AM 6 points [-]

Should I vote this comment down because I wish you really had put the disclaimers in there and don't find the justification satisfying? (Answer to my own question: no.)

Comment author: wedrifid 05 September 2011 09:31:38AM 5 points [-]

Should I vote this comment down because I wish you really had put the disclaimers in there and don't find the justification satisfying? (Answer to my own question: no.)

I voted it up because at least he acknowledged he tried. I'm going to pretend I didn't read the justification - it's terrible!

Comment author: TobyBartels 07 September 2011 07:09:36PM 2 points [-]

I voted it up because at least he acknowledged

Yes, this alone (just the part that I quoted) is enough to vote it up, on the principle that one votes up what one would like to see more of. Thanks for reminding me to do that!

Comment author: wedrifid 05 September 2011 08:00:49AM *  2 points [-]

Wrote the quadruple-disclaimerized version of that conversation, deleted the disclaimers because it didn't flow as writing.

Glad to hear that! And I can certainly imagine 4 disclaimers not fitting there at all. (One, on the other hand, mentioned as an afterthought...)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 01 September 2011 12:07:11PM 7 points [-]

One more thing to like about Chapter 75: It really is that much work to change a basic belief.

When I commented at fanfiction, I described Hermione as (previously) obeying rules, but it probably is more accurate to describe her as having trusted authority.

She may be trusting Harry too much-- does it really make sense to take total responsibility for the outcomes of your actions, considering that you can't know everything that's going on? Harry can take that stance because he's smarter than just about everyone around him, but what happens if he has a definitive failure-- not just losing, but a failure?

On the other side, are there authorities worth trusting, and if so, how do you recognize them?

Comment author: Nisan 03 September 2011 05:41:42AM 2 points [-]

it probably is more accurate to describe her as having trusted authority.

Indeed, Hermione is practically the embodiment of the Authority/Respect intuition.

Comment author: roryokane 01 September 2011 03:35:33AM *  3 points [-]

The play referenced in Chapter 75 refers to the webcomic Ow, My Sanity!.

The relevant paragraph of Chapter 75, for convenience of comparison and search:

"Oh," said the third-year girl, "I was thinking of that really romantic one where there's this very nice, sweet boy who makes a Floo call, only he mispronounces his destination and stumbles out into this room full of Dark Wizards who are performing a forbidden ritual that should've stayed forever lost to time, and they're sacrificing seven victims in order to unseal this ancient horror which is supposed to grant someone a wish if it's freed, so of course the boy's presence interrupts the ritual, and as the horror is eating all the Dark Wizards and everyone is dying the boy's last thought is that he wishes he could've had a girlfriend, and the next thing you know the boy is lying in the lap of this beautiful woman whose eyes are burning with a dreadful light, only she doesn't understand anything about being human so the boy always has to stop her eating people. This is just like that play, only you're the boy and Harry Potter is the girl!"

Comment author: NihilCredo 01 September 2011 03:55:32AM *  8 points [-]

When I read that passage I would have bet a non-negligible amount of money that the work referenced was an anime or manga. Good thing I didn't.

edit: bloody hell is that webcomic terrible

Comment author: Desrtopa 02 September 2011 12:18:33AM 4 points [-]

It's frustrating. I read the trope page before checking it out, and thought it sounded really interesting. But it took me almost no time to give up on it. What good is a story that's supposed to be about the relationships between people and beings that look like but don't think or act like people when the people don't think or act like people?

Comment author: Bugmaster 30 August 2011 02:03:56AM *  3 points [-]

Is it just me, or is Hermione getting Flanderized into irrelevance ? Her initial role was to act as Harry's partner and foil, but lately it seems that she'd become just another typical Gryffindor-style heroine... Utterly predictable and ultimately ineffectual.

Edit: fixed markup

Comment author: TuviaDulin 30 August 2011 04:10:47AM 5 points [-]

During this "Self Actualization" story arc, yes, she's going in that direction. I strongly suspect, however, that this will not last, and that lessons learned during her Gryffindor phase will help her grow as a character once she gets over it.

Comment author: wedrifid 01 September 2011 05:42:06PM *  4 points [-]

I just read all the chapters from 1 before Azkaban until the end. Have to say I loved them. Either that which had pissed me off about the chapters immediately preceding that one was not present or I have lower standards now. From what I recall the irritating bits were Harry being inexcusably stupid in ways that are later fully endorsed by Eliezer. But everything Harry has done since then has been either a good decision or revealed to be a bad decision. Like going to @#%@# Azkaban. I particularly like this scene:

"...and Professor Flitwick says her determination seems unshakeable," Minerva said tightly, staring at the silver-bearded old wizard who was responsible for this. Albus Dumbledore was just sitting silently and listening to her with a distant sad look in his eyes. "Miss Granger didn't even blink when Professor Flitwick threatened to have her transferred to Gryffindor, just said that if she left she would take all the books with her. Hermione Granger has decided she's going to be a hero and she's not taking no for an answer. I doubt you could have pushed her into this any harder if you had tried to -"

It took all of five full seconds for Minerva's brain to process the realization.

"ALBUS!" she shrieked.

Dumbledore isn't a total villain just yet!

Of course the awesomeness of Tonks kicking butt, Harry and Neville taking out Sunshine, Harry's ritual domination of naked Chaos and Quirrell doing it because he needed cheering up go without saying!

The story got a whole heap lighter and it was good to get back to Hogwarts and the student battles. Draco casually admitting that Harry was better than both of them combined and Harry getting a handicap was a nice touch. It was like book one had finished with a climactic battle and things are back to the early chapters of book two with the low stakes Hogwarts games.

Worst part: Hermione pulling an absurd feminst revolution. It totally wasn't appropriate to the culture. SPHEW is way less sane than SPEW and Hermione just looked petty. She must have temporarily downgraded to sub Canon levels that chapter. The vigilante gang was far more appropriate!

Comment author: JamesAndrix 09 September 2011 04:17:56AM 2 points [-]

So does Dumbledore know that Snape is putting the Sorcerer's Stone back into Gringotts?

Comment author: FiftyTwo 04 September 2011 11:44:14AM 2 points [-]

The authors notes for 76 imply that the ending was changed, could someone enlighten me to what it was originally?

Anyone care to speculate about the figure at the end?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 04 September 2011 12:01:36PM 12 points [-]

The authors notes for 76 imply that the ending was changed, could someone enlighten me to what it was originally?

It was this:

"Hello again, Hermione," the kindly whisper emanated from the white glow behind the veil. "I've been sent to help you, so please don't be afraid. My name is Myrlirrien, and I am your servant in all things; for you, my Lady, are the last magical descendant of Merlin."

There were a couple other minor edits throughout the chapter -- basically red herrings that Eliezer removed. Draco had jokingly speculated whether Hermione was the Heir of Ravenclaw. Cloak-and-Hat had urged Hermione to flee -- to Beauxbatons, or Salem's Institute, or Durmstrang, or even "the Secret City of Australia", anywhere but Hogwarts.

Anyone care to speculate about the figure at the end?

Nothing much to speculate I think: The figure at the end was Cloak-And-Hat taking a nicer form after obliviating Hermione, because she incautiously revealed to him the chief reason she hadn't been trusting him in all the previous iterations of their encounter.

I think if there's confusion in the readership about this, it's because not everyone realized that Hat-and-Cloak had this discussion more than once with Hermione, each time changing it somewhat in order to convince her until he frustratedly snapped at Hermione about her not trusting him no matter how many ways he tried to convince her...

Comment author: FiftyTwo 04 September 2011 12:24:50PM 3 points [-]

Ah I see. I hadn't realised that was meant to represent her being obliviated and the conversation restarting I thought cloak and hat was revealing a 'true form' as the silvery lady.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 05 September 2011 02:45:07PM 2 points [-]

One more small issue: ""What?" hissed the Potions Master" is problematic because "What?" lacks s sounds. I don't think Quirrell knows Parseltongue.

Comment author: Solvent 04 September 2011 06:53:34AM 2 points [-]

Okay, chapter 76.

"But do you know how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" is Hermione's best line so far. That part of the story felt slightly unrealistic, as a result of how ballsy Hermione was being. She's an eleven year old girl, confronted by some unknown person. I am surprised she is that confident.

As always, I love how the theme of "surface appearances" is placed throughout in so many ways, in every one of the scenes.

Comment author: Khoth 04 September 2011 05:31:09PM 6 points [-]

I thought it unrealistic more because it's an accidental Americanism in something supposed to be set in Britain.

Comment author: gjm 30 August 2011 09:49:39PM 2 points [-]

Nitpicking on chapter 74: (1) No one in the UK would be likely to use the word "gotten". (2) Surely Tracey should say "mundata sum" rather than "mundatus" since she's female? (Yeah, it's a quotation. But the person being quoted was male, no?)

Comment author: NihilCredo 01 September 2011 01:42:29AM *  7 points [-]

(1) No one in the UK would be likely to use the word "gotten"

This fic is written in American English, Eliezer isn't even remotely trying to be British (look t.e. at all the -ize verbs).

I do think it was a wiser choice than attempting to fake Old World speech, but now that HPMOR has become extremely popular I REALLY wish he would enlist some native fans to Britpick the chapters. I'm not even British and I still found it quite jarring when Quirrell retorted "Fire me" instead of "Sack me".

(I understand that nowadays there is a lot of cross-Atlantic mingling between the two dialects, especially eastwards, but firstly, Harry Potter is set in 1991; and secondly, a medievalesque public school is such a stereotypically British environment that one expects the language to match.)

Comment author: JamesAndrix 09 September 2011 04:49:21AM *  4 points [-]

and secondly, a medievalesque public school is such a stereotypically British environment that one expects the language to match.

During the Revolution, Salem witches were considerably more adept at battle magic than those taught at the institution that had been sucking magical knowledge out of the world for the previous 600 years. They also had the advantage of being able to train in the open since most Puritans were self-obliviating.

It wasn't until the 1890's that the school returned fully to Ministry control after the retirement of Headmaster Teetonka. Over a century of American control left its mark on the language and culture of Wizarding Britain, unfortunately the basis of powerful aboriginal magics remains restricted by edict to the students of the Salem Institute, El Dorado, or the University of Phoenix®.

Comment author: gjm 01 September 2011 01:48:33AM 2 points [-]

There's nothing wrong with -ize verbs in British English; that's the preferred form of the OED, for instance. But yes, MoR could do with a bit of Britpicking.

(I didn't find "Fire me" jarring; it certainly would have been weird in BrE in 1991, but it isn't in present-day BrE -- not for me, anyway -- and that's what governs my wrongness-sensors.)

Comment author: Desrtopa 31 August 2011 06:29:08PM 2 points [-]

That assumes Harry has actual familiarity with Latin rather than just grabbing a bunch of references.