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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81

6 Post author: bogdanb 27 March 2012 06:07PM

This is a new thread to discuss Eliezer Yudkowsky’s Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and anything related to it. This thread is intended for discussing chapter 81, which should be published later today. The previous thread passed 400 comments as of the time of this writing, so it will pass 500 comments soon after the next chapter is posted, if not before. I suggest refraining from commenting here until chapter 81 is posted; comment in the 12th thread until you read chapter 81. After chapter 81 is posted, I suggest all discussion of previous guesses be kept here, with links to comments in the previous thread.

There is now a site dedicated to the story at hpmor.com, which is now the place to go to find the authors notes and all sorts of other goodies. AdeleneDawner has kept an archive of Author’s Notes. (This goes up to the notes for chapter 76, and is now not updating. The authors notes from chapter 77 onwards are on hpmor.com.) When posted, chapter 81 should appear here.

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, eight,nine, ten, eleven, twelve.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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 (1096)

Comment author: Spurlock 28 March 2012 03:51:04AM 23 points [-]

If you're Lucius at this point, how the hell do you now update your "Harry is Voldie" hypothesis?

On the one one hand, he just paid 100K galleons to save a mud blood girl. On the other hand, he spooked a dementor. On the other other hand, while that feat may be impressive, it's certainly not anything the Dark Lord had been known to do previously. And is he consprasizing with Dumbledore, or against him?

Probably a very confusing time to be the Lord of Malfoy.

Comment author: Lavode 28 March 2012 04:49:13AM 23 points [-]

It makes a great deal of sense as a purely political ploy. Harry just greatly strengthened the legend of the boy who lived, and since that is the result, Lucius is likely to suspect that it was also the intent.

Comment author: erratio 28 March 2012 12:42:43PM 16 points [-]

That mudblood girl is also the most talented witch of her generation. Maybe Harrymort just wants another Bellatrix and this is the first step towards it. Maybe the debt doesn't matter because Britain is going to be at war / Lucius will be dead before Harry would graduate. Also, Harry just gained a sworn minion out of it, which is arguably a lot more useful than a large sum of money.

Comment author: hairyfigment 28 March 2012 05:57:34AM 6 points [-]

If Harrymort regains 'his' former power, he'll have the use of all House Malfoy's wealth. But Lucius still doesn't know what the Dark Lord wants with Hermione Granger.

Comment author: ajuc 28 March 2012 09:40:54PM 3 points [-]

Great point. If Harry is Voldemort, Voldemort will keep Harry money because Lucius have them. If Harry is not Voldemort, Voldemort will earn Harry money, because Lucius have them now.

Win-win once again. Lucius is a competent player, and Harry is underestimating him.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 29 March 2012 02:29:21PM 10 points [-]

Confirmation bias remains and this is Lucius who whatever his cunning isn't a rationalist. So he's more likely to be thinking "Why did Voldemort save the mudblood girl?" than consider that he was wrong thinking Harry was Voldemort.

Comment author: tadrinth 04 April 2012 02:08:28AM 22 points [-]

I'm not sure if anyone has commented on this, but I just noticed it while rereading the Self-Actualization chapters:

Hermione went to tremendous lengths to be her own person rather than just something of Harry's, including becoming a general and fighting bullies. Now she has sworn herself into Harry's service and house forever. That is really sad.

Comment author: gRR 03 April 2012 02:10:17AM 22 points [-]

Hypothesis: the Source of Magic is an AI with the goal to work in the way (magical) people really believe it should work. Or maybe, to make the world work in the way (magical) people really believe it should work. The strength of belief appears to be important, so a strong belief can override weak ones. On the other hand, when something is already "generally known" to work in a certain way, this is a very strong belief.

Examples:
1. Broomsticks work by Aristotelian physics [because it was what people believed when the broomsticks were invented, and now people just know (=believe really strongly) that's how broomsticks should behave]
2. Spell names and laws [inventors create spells by finding sounds they believe should work. When spells become known, they stabilize in that form]
3. Potions Law
4. Ritual magic [people really believe in sacrifices and not getting something for nothing]
5. Ghosts (and afterlife?) [effects of religious beliefs]
6. Harry's partial transfiguration [very strong belief, finds a loophole to not be in conflict with existing strong beliefs of other people]

Magic doesn't make sense to Harry because it now reflects lots of ad hoc rules and beliefs accumulated in centuries. Wizards and witches believe them from childhood. [No wonder they are half-insane.]

Interestingly, this hypothesis implies that Dumbledore's narrative causality may actually work - people do believe in stories.

Comment author: Mass_Driver 04 April 2012 07:06:16AM 7 points [-]

Wow. That's just an absolutely fabulous theory. In one fell swoop, you explain why EY appeared to leave AI out of his largest story yet, plausibly account for a vast array of in-story phenomena, and rehabilitate a character (Dumbledore) who seems suspiciously irrational for someone who's supposed to have oodles of meaningful in-story-real-world accomplishments. The theory has falsifiable, concrete predictions -- for example, we should not expect the AI to care if Harry asks it really nicely to give everyone magic powers; nor should we expect magic to be able to do anything that a super-intelligent AI couldn't do (simulating cat-brains is AOK; uncomputably complicated time loops are not OK). The theory also seems to fit with Chapter 82's hint that people subsumed by pheonix fire are re-instantiated "instances" of a more general Fire. In other words, the AI can maybe call the "Harry" subroutine somewhere else if it wants.

I'm in awe.

One possible victory condition if the AI in fact is coded to enforce the beliefs of people with a particular genetic marker is for Harry to find a way to put that marker into most people / his friends using a retrovirus. Does anyone else find it in the least suspicious that Harry's father is an expert biochemist?

So, have there been any fundamentally uncomputable events in the story so far? :-)

Comment author: gwern 28 March 2012 03:29:14AM *  19 points [-]

So, new speculation: who are the sharp players in the Wizengamot who are drawing up lists on Harry?

They're not Lucius or Dumbledore, both of whom already know a great deal, and the former is too enraged to really be thinking beyond 'why did Voldemort just sacrifice all his wealth for a "friend"?'

I would be a little shocked if Umbridge was meant; she's so moronic in canon that even a MoR brain-upgrade still leaves her dim and bureaucratic, and she certainly doesn't match. And the powerful-wizard background is much more of a 'male' thing, to boot.

Mad-eye Moody could be expected to be making a list, but as far as I can tell he's not present and is remarkable enough that if he was, he would be mentioned. He's also apparently busy watching over & poisoning graves. In one chapter, Bones mentions he just retired, so he wouldn't be there in an Auror capacity. EDIT: Aftermath would seem to imply Moody was not there, because Harry didn't recognize the Moody in the Pensieve memory at all, despite him being quite striking.

Madam Bones seems too much on Dumbledore and Harry's side to be so suspicious, and not 'new' in any plot-meaningful sense. She's otherwise a decent enough candidate.

Bartemius Crouch is a candidate: as a Ministry head of Magical Law Enforcement he might be at a Wizengamot meeting (the Crouch family is highly respected and pure-blood and related to the House of Black, but the HP Wikia doesn't list them as nobles), is old, and canon seems to imply he was powerful & competent in Dark-hunting (speaking hundreds of languages) and about as suspicious as Mad-Eye, so he meets all criterion. And he's been mentioned in MoR before as alive & active, and more importantly, still part of the Phoenix network.

Does he appear in the chapter? Well, there is a nameless male wizard who takes Harry's threats very seriously, who apparently can command the Aurors:

A strange male voice spoke from somewhere far away, "Be sure that the girl is taken directly to Azkaban, and put under extra guard."

I'd say there's a good chance that that is Crouch, and he is also one of the 'certain few' in the epilogue.

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 06:41:40AM 7 points [-]

Bartemius Crouch is a candidate: as a Ministry head of Magical Law Enforcement

Amelia Bones is Director of the DMLE, not Crouch.

Comment author: Desrtopa 28 March 2012 03:37:01AM *  7 points [-]

the Crouch family is highly respected and pure-blood and related to the House of Black, but the HP Wikia doesn't list them as nobles), is old, and canon seems to imply he was powerful & competent in Dark-hunting

Not just imply, I'm pretty sure that in the fourth book Dumbledore explicitly calls Bartemius Crouch "powerfully magical."

The relevance of that may be limited if Eliezer hasn't read the book itself though.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 06:24:31AM 19 points [-]

Well, he's certainly on the list now.

Comment author: Vaniver 28 March 2012 04:47:40AM *  4 points [-]

Scrimgeour seems like a likely candidate for the strange male voice.

Comment author: DeevGrape 28 March 2012 04:51:46AM 19 points [-]

Or, depending on how the interrogation went, ScrimQuirMort.

Comment author: Locke 28 March 2012 02:32:32AM 19 points [-]

So how many other ex-death-eaters now officially owe House Potter? Surely they can pay him.

Comment author: SkyDK 28 March 2012 03:52:33AM 8 points [-]

It would be a bad use of political capital considering how easy he could gain money in other ways while keeping a majority(? - at least combined with some help from Dumbledore's side) vote on pretty much whatever issue up his sleeve...

Comment author: brilee 28 March 2012 03:54:59AM 18 points [-]

After this chapter, a lot of people are going to deduce that Harry was in fact the person who broke out Bellatrix. Including, probably Dumbledore.

Quirrell will likely be forced to show his hand when Dumbledore accuses him of having engineered the escape. Somehow, this turns into Quirrell leaving his post. End of story seems imminent :(

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 06:25:41AM 15 points [-]

No. Mind the Conservation of Detail.

Harry doesn't know that Dumbledore's patronus recognizes Harry's patronus. This is a trap EY has laid for Harry.

For no internal reasons, but for story reasons, Dumbledore will not figure out that Harry was in Axkaban until the next time both he and Harry have their patronuses up at the same time. It is set up to be a shocking reveal, maybe a cliffhanger.

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 04:01:14AM *  17 points [-]

Lucius Malfoy's eyes narrowed. "By the report I received, you cannot cast the Patronus Charm, and Dumbledore knows this. The power of a single Dementor nearly killed you. You would not dare venture near Azkaban in your own person -"

Has Lucius not spoken to Draco in private yet?

If he hasn't... when he does, and tells Draco what happened at the trial, and finds that Draco isn't surprised (or at least, not more than usual when it comes to Harry)... what will he think then?

Comment author: alex_zag_al 28 March 2012 02:02:53PM *  12 points [-]

Even if he knew, saying that would be a good way to try to get Harry to reveal something. What he would have heard from Draco is that Harry has a super-bright Patronus whose form he keeps secret; he would be curious. So I don't think this quote is strong evidence that Lucius hasn't heard about the Patronus from Draco, since it is pretty likely that he would say something like this even if he has.

EDIT: Actually, since he believes Harry is Voldemort, he probably thinks the Patronus light he showed Draco was an illusion, and not useful for getting out of Azkaban at all. If he thinks Harry is Voldemort he's unlikely, then, to pry for information about it in this way.

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 04:12:36AM 5 points [-]

I expect the amount of time he had was not sufficient for a full report on everything Draco knows of Harry. Perhaps the Patronuses didn't come up? Seems an odd omission, but not an impossible one.

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 04:18:45AM 18 points [-]

Lucius didn't ask if Harry could cast a Patronus, I could buy that. But Draco's Patronus didn't come up? Harry's vow of vengeance against Narcissa's killer didn't come up? That whole thing was possibly the single most important interaction Draco and Harry have had, next to when Harry tricked Draco into sacrificing his belief in blood purity.

Comment author: Nominull 28 March 2012 03:31:13AM 17 points [-]

The next chapter is going to be horribly depressing, you know. Harry is going to have to have it explained to him why it's a bad idea to do things that are a bad idea. Otherwise this arc would have the wrong moral...

Comment author: see 28 March 2012 05:50:12AM *  23 points [-]

On the other hand, it's now in Dumbledore's interest to see Harry make a lot of money quickly in order to discharge the debt, which means he's far more likely to approve of things that otherwise would be considered unacceptable, like:

  • 1) Tricks with the Time Turner involving lotteries, stock markets, and the like.
  • 2) The gold/silver arbitrage idea.
  • 3) Personal appearance fees and other financial trading on his fame as The Boy Who Lived.
  • 4) Calling in debts owed by other Imperiused or supposedly-Imperiused victims of Voldemort.
  • 5) Dumbledore himself using the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone to make a lot of gold.

In short, a sixty thousand Galleon debt, while it feels huge, is not obviously a major obstacle given the number of possible solutions already implicitly presented in HPMoR, and it would almost seem a cheat for it to be one

That wiping out the debt easily might have its own negative consequences, on the other hand, is potentially interesting.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 28 March 2012 04:56:02AM 11 points [-]

Dunno about that. The debt will have concsequences, certainly, but Hermione is not in Azkaban.

Comment author: Nominull 28 March 2012 05:07:36AM 17 points [-]

Yes, it's super sad to let a little girl be tortured to death. But there is a cost large enough that it is not worth paying to prevent it, even if the cost is only in terms of mere cash, political capital, personal reputation as not being more fearsome than Fear itself, keeping important military secrets for the coming war secret, and the enmity of those you failed to lose to. That's the meaning of the phrase "Taboo Tradeoffs", it's that stating you kept Hermione out of Azkaban is not enough justification.

Of course, if he had counted the cost, he would have been an awful hypocrite. Recall what he said after Hermione rescued him from the Dementor:

I'll say that no matter what it ends up costing you to have kissed me, don't ever doubt for a second that it was the right thing to do.

At least he's holding himself to the same standard, even if it's a bad one.

Comment author: Desrtopa 28 March 2012 03:42:29PM *  6 points [-]

A lot of people would pay a lot of money for a reputation for being more fearsome than fear itself. Speaking entirely in terms of money, I think that this was probably a clear cut good idea, because in the long run, for Harry, money is likely not to be a limited resource in practical terms. Sure, millions of dollars worth of gold could theoretically be used to save a lot more people, but Harry doesn't have management of his account for the time being. By the time he's old enough to actually access his account at will, his debt to Lucius is likely to be a triviality, or already dispensed with.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 March 2012 02:07:16PM 4 points [-]

The math here depends entirely on what the "certain rights" Lucius has over Harry are. Were the debt a purely financial issue, saving Hermione would be a no-brainer. Did those rights allow Lucius to realistically cripple Harry's efforts to fix the world, not saving Hermione would be a no-brainer.

We still don't know, although the fact that Dumbledore ultimately went along with it suggests that it's closer to the former than the latter.

Comment author: FAWS 28 March 2012 01:12:12PM 16 points [-]

Why does Dumbledore not give a quick Summary of the worst consequences of being in debt to Lucius Malfoy? It's hard to see how that could necessitate telling secrets that cannot be revealed in public, the laws involved should already be known. Naming a few of the "certain rights" Lucius would have shouldn't take more time than Dumbledore actually spends trying to convince Harry.

Comment author: Anubhav 28 March 2012 01:20:52PM 6 points [-]

For that matter, why didn't Dumbledore mention the Imperius debt when they were talking about debts?

Dumbledore's being awfully incompetent... Wonder why that would be.

Comment author: kilobug 28 March 2012 01:45:53PM 15 points [-]

I think Dumbledore is more into the "general wanting to win a war" mindset. In that mindset, you don't spend a trump card like a blood debt from one major enemy just to save one life. So he shouldn't (in his pov) speak about that issue to Harry.

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 06:45:08PM 23 points [-]

I suspect that everyone discounts the "I was Imperiused!" claim for being an obvious lie, and thus discounts the implications of it being officially true. It's certainly a plausible hole in worldview - ignoring the implications of a false statement being "true" is an easy mistake to make.

Comment author: Desrtopa 29 March 2012 03:29:12AM 7 points [-]

It seems like a pretty glaring one to me; I argued in the tvtropes discussion thread that I didn't think this solution was going to be implemented, because I found it hard to believe that Dumbledore wouldn't have thought of it. It was actually the first thing that came to my mind when I was reading chapter 80, and trying to think of holds Harry had on Lucius; when you know someone's been lying, catching them out in the consequences of it is one of the handiest ways to gain advantage over them. By the time I finished the chapter, I had already dismissed it on the grounds that if Dumbledore, who's been maneuvering against Lucius in the realm of politics for over a decade, hadn't suggested it, there was probably some reason why it wouldn't work. The fact that he would let such a clear opportunity to use his opponent's deceptions against him slip has forced me to revise my estimate of his cunning considerably downwards.

Comment author: Logos01 29 March 2012 04:05:14AM 12 points [-]

Dumbledore may simply not have considered Hermione WORTH the debt.

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 04:13:41AM *  14 points [-]

By this point Harry Potter had entirely forgotten the existence of Professor McGonagall, who had been sitting there this whole time undergoing a number of interesting changes of facial expression which Harry had not been looking at because he was distracted. [...]

So Harry, who at this point had a fair amount of adrenaline in his bloodstream, startled and jumped quite visibly when Professor McGonagall, her eyes now blazing with impossible hope and the tears on her cheek half-dried, leapt to her feet and cried, "With me, Mr. Potter!" and, without waiting for a reply, tore down the stairs that led to the bottom platform where waited a chair of dark metal.

It took a moment, but Harry ran after; though it took him longer to reach the bottom, after Professor McGonagall vaulted half the stairs with a strange catlike motion and landed with the astonished-looking Auror trio already pointing their wands at her. [...]

"Both of you stop being silly," Professor McGonagall said in her firm Scottish accent (it was strange how much that helped). "Mr. Potter, hold out your wand so that Miss Granger's fingers can touch it. Miss Granger, repeat after me. Upon my life and magic -" [...]

And then Minerva McGonagall, who was Head of House Gryffindor even if she didn't always act like it, looked up high above at where Lucius Malfoy stood; and she said to him before the entire Wizengamot, "I regret every point I ever gave you in Transfiguration, you vile little worm."

One hundred points to Gryffindor doesn't seem to cut it.

Comment author: cultureulterior 31 March 2012 09:12:52PM *  12 points [-]

Progress of Eliezer vs JKR, Fvapr Ryvrmre unf fgngrq gung gur fgbel jba'g or ybatre guna gur frira obbxf, cre jbeq, naq gung vg'f zber guna unysjnl qbar

Comment author: [deleted] 01 April 2012 06:00:20PM *  11 points [-]

Just an odd thought about something Draco said in Chapter 48:

Before them was a small empty place of stone set against the night sky. Not a roof like the one he'd dropped Harry from, but a tiny and proper courtyard, far above the ground. With proper railings, elaborate traceries of stone that flushed seamlessly into the stone floor... How so much artistry had been infused into the creation of Hogwarts was something that still awed Draco every time he thought about it. There must have been some way to do it all at once, no one could have detailed so much piece by piece, the castle changed and every new piece was like that. It was so far beyond the wizardry of these fading days that no one would have believed it if they hadn't seen the proof in Hogwarts itself.

...is - is Hogwarts sentient? If it's animate, capable of creative expression, and self-constructing, it's not out of the question that Hogwarts might be in some sense intelligent or alive. It'd also explain some things about the Hogwarts security system, to say nothing about the Room of Requirement, in canon.

Comment author: thelittledoctor 28 March 2012 03:26:49AM 11 points [-]

Something I just noticed on a second read-through - the reuse of the word "riddle" in context here seems like a reminder to Lucius of who he thinks Harry really is, and this is not the first time it's come up when Harry is exposed to Dementors. Perhaps this lends credence to the theory that riddle is the "strange word" he learned when first exposed?

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 06:38:48AM 6 points [-]

Voldemort used the word to tease as Quirrell and as the cloak and hat. He probably did it in the last war, too. Lucius may think that Voldemort is teasing him just like he used it, when Harry says it.

It's not a strange word, though. That's probably so we know the spell being cast was not AK.

Comment author: PeerInfinity 04 April 2012 03:12:21AM 9 points [-]

"You can't put a price on a human life."

"I agree, but unfortunately reality has already put a price on human life, and that price is much less than 5 million dollars. By refusing to accept this, you are only refusing to make an informed decision about which lives to purchase."

Comment author: bogdanb 30 March 2012 03:48:26AM *  9 points [-]

I think I figured out how Dumbledore knew about Harry wanting to change the rules of Quiddich. Instead of reading student minds he used the cloak:

This is the Cloak of Invisibility [...] Your father lent it to me to study shortly before he died, and I confess that I have received much good use of it over the years.

(Emphasis mine. Well, of course, that he would use it is obvious and the note is not proof of anything, but that’s what triggered the idea. Also, it makes a lot of sense that Harry’s father would lend the cloak to Dumbledore for study.)

If he did this on the train platform (which would make sense as an opportunity to be mysterious to new students, or just to Harry) there’s a bit of other interesting stuff he might have heard. Whatever Draco cast (the description doesn’t quite match Quietus, and it was wordless or at least not heard by Harry), it probably doesn’t work for a cloaked guy near you, and certainly not Dumbledore if he really wanted to listen.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 March 2012 04:02:54AM 9 points [-]

My prediction doesn't seem to have paid off in anything but karma, so I'm wondering how Eliezer's clue about Harry seeing the members of the Wizingamot as player characters has played out or if we're going to see something of the sort in future chapters.

Comment author: Lavode 28 March 2012 04:46:20AM 16 points [-]

The problem is that he did not - he treated them as a passive audience without any consideration of how they view him. So now some of them have reached the same conclusion as Lucius, and think he is a case of bodysnatching. Possession is a real possibility in the universe he inhabits, and he is showing all the signs. That is quite likely to get him killed by people with the best of intentions. At best, I am expecting kidnapping attempts aimed at extracting voldemort from his host. Also, Harry really should listen to Malfoy. Scaring Lucius is not a good idea.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 March 2012 02:24:32AM 4 points [-]

That hadn't been meant to be a clue - it's fulfilled immediately after, when Harry starts seeing them as subjects of moral judgment.

Comment author: Daniel_Starr 28 March 2012 03:50:54AM 9 points [-]

Can we add the 'harry_potter' discussion tag to this post?

(Contrary to what the post text says, as of right now this post does not show up on the list of Harry Potter discussion posts.)

Comment author: CountlessArgonauts 03 April 2012 09:53:07PM 8 points [-]

"Yes," said Dumbledore, as he descended to the bottom of the dark stone stairs. "Let us all go home, indeed." His blue eyes were locked on Harry, as hard as sapphires.

It suddenly occurs to me that Dumbledore has seen two interactions between Harry and a Dementor. In the first one, it almost destroys him. In the second, he casts a Patronus that destroys it. Neither would seem to provide the kind of evidence that you would need to confidently assume that other Dementors would run away from you if you said "Boo" to them.

So, is this enough evidence for Dumbledore to decide that he's wrong about who broke Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban?

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 09:04:40PM *  8 points [-]

So, Dementors Part Deux.

First, because someone had to say it:

Harry took all the silver emotion that fueled his Patronus Charm and shoved it at the Dementor; and expected Death's shadow to flee from him -

-and as Harry did that, he flung his hands up and shouted "BOO!"

The void retreated sharply away from Harry until it came up against the dark stone behind.

In the hall there was a deathly silence.

...And to everyone but Harry, that deathly silence seemed to say "Please do not punish this one, my Dark Liege!"

Harry turned his back on the empty void, and had a moment to wonder why Dumbledore and Lucius were making such odd faces before the Aurors acted on reflex.

(I guess Dementors aren't that smart.)

Secondly, I noticed that Harry's first Transfiguration lesson includes a photograph of a Dementor. What would that look like? What does Harry see, compared to everyone else? Why was he asking all the other students what they saw in the Patronus lesson without ever once thinking of that photograph?

Comment author: Anubhav 29 March 2012 02:57:36AM 3 points [-]

Secondly, I noticed that Harry's first Transfiguration lesson includes a photograph of a Dementor. What would that look like?

Probably just a cloaked and hooded figure.

Next you'll be wondering why the robes in the picture don't decay.

Comment author: jimrandomh 27 March 2012 11:10:45PM *  43 points [-]

This is probably not the solution Harry's going to use in Chapter 81 (I'm writing this before it was posted), but a friend and I were discussing it and came up with a possible solution. I decided it would be much more fun as a piece of fanfanfiction rather than an abstract description, so here it is. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing.

Chapter 81b: Alternate Solution

Beyond all panic and despair his mind began to search through every fact in its possession, recall everything it knew about Lucius Malfoy, about the Wizengamot, about the laws of magical Britain; his eyes looked at the rows of chairs, at every person and every thing within range of his vision, searching for any opportunity it could grasp -

And the start of an idea formed - not a plan, but a tiny fragment of one. He spelled out N-O-T-E on his fingers, and, as discretely as he could, drew a piece of paper out from his bag that he did not remember putting there. It read:

"Mess with time if you want!"

And then he heard a loud bang, and another while he was stuffing the note back in his bag, and he looked up to see that a circular piece had pushed out from the wall, (that wall that could've withstood a nuclear explosion), far in the back where no one had been looking. Heads turned in unison to look as four glowing, silver human shapes emerged from the three-foot diameter hole, and began walking down the aisle towards Hermione. No one in the room but Harry and Dumbledore suspected they were Patronuses.

Prime Minister Fudge should have been angry, that magical creatures would dare barge in; but for some reason he couldn't quite place, he was calm. Auror Gawain was too busy casting shield spells to acknowledge how scared he was. Harry had a pretty good idea where this was going, but decided that "confused" was the best expression to wear. Professor McGonagall nearly had a stroke. Lucius Malfoy's angry expression had vanished, leaving his face perfectly blank. His entire row had stood up, and drawn their wands. To his left, five wizards Harry didn't recognize were pointing at the human Patronuses; to his right, seven wizards pointed their wands at Dumbledore.

Lucius himself had his wand, and his gaze, fixed firmly on Harry. For a brief and accidental moment, the boy who thought he was a rock looked back.

Wands too numerous to count followed those glowing figures, as they walked down the aisle towards Hermione. Harry noticed that Fawkes had perched silently on her shoulder, and she was taking slow, deep breaths.

Behind each wand, a wizard thought that someone else ought to do something. A rare upside to the bystander effect, Harry would later note. For the time being, his mind was busy choreographing the movements of four invisible figures, who were definitely not bumping into each other. When the Patronuses had reached the bottom-most platform, where Hermione sat, they stopped, and looked up at Dumbledore's platform.

"Who dares interrupt these proceedings?" Dumbledore's voice boomed out. In fact, he was glad that they had been interrupted, and knew exactly who he was talking to; but as Chief Warlock, he had to express indignance, or else someone else would have gone and done it for him.

This better be good, Harry thought, because I won't be able to think of anything else once I've been anchored.

"We are the Guardians of Merlin", said the first Patronus, in Harry's best impression of a Scottish accent.

"In that case, I yield the floor to the Guardians of Merlin", said Dumbledore. "May I ask why you are here?"

"We were a safeguard created by Merlin, to protect the purity of the Wizengamot. In his wisdom, Merlin set down a list of especially vile deeds; should this assembly should decide to perform one, we awaken. And so we are here."

Lucius turned away from Harry, and towards the front. "Ridiculous. This is no different than the many other times we have punished murderers, and no ghosts or apparitions appeared then." He put a slight emphasis on "ghosts or apparitions". He had no idea what they really were, but there was ample precedent saying ghosts and apparitions weren't allowed to do things.

Harry wondered what lie his future self would tell. Then the second patronus spoke, in exactly the same voice as the first. "It is different, because sending this girl to Azkaban would satisfy the first requirement for a ritual!"

The murmurs stopped. Several members of the audience suddenly noticed the dementor in the room, on a level where they had not noticed it before. Professor McGonagall actually did have a stroke, but it was a small one, of a kind that could be fully repaired by magic later. For a moment, Dumbledore lost himself in his role and forgot that he was speaking to four copies of Harry Potter.

Five seconds passed before Dumbledore broke the silence. "Are you saying that this trial is part of a dark ritual?"

"Yes", said all four patronuses simultaneously, convincing several members of the assembly to abandon the idea that they were all controlled by one person. The figures were new, important, and mysterious. Hermione was no longer salient.

"Do you know who could be behind this?" Dumbledore asked.

Heads turned towards Lucius, who looked around and noted exactly whose heads they were, handling the sudden deluge of important information by recording only the ways in which it differed from what he would have expected. Lucius knew then, that he had to lose; not only was he facing four new and completely unknown pieces, pieces which had been powerful enough to carve a hole in the indestructible wall of the Wizengamot, his own role was looking altogether too suspicious. He looked left, met the eyes of his servant, August Stoessel, and sent a thought.

Two seats left, August stood up and shouted, "It must be Lord Voldemort!" The audience's attention shifted slightly. Lucius decided that four days later, Stoessel - Imperiused and falsely rumored to be a perfect occlumens - would confess to the whole thing, claiming (though no one would believe the last part) to have been Imperiused by Lord Voldemort himself.

Dumbledore looked very disturbed. Onlookers did not find this surprising, but they would have been surprised by the reason, if they knew. Dumbledore had just put the pieces together - Harry had performed an advanced plot, and time turned in spite of his time turner's locked shell, just as he must have done on the day Bellatrix Black broke out of Azkaban.

"Talk of dark rituals is unfit for discussion here", Dumbledore said, a little shakily. "If there are no objections, I believe we can suspend the previous vote and reconvene tomorrow morning, after the Ministry has had a chance to speak with these Guardians. We will vote whether to release or punish Hermione then, with fuller information."

Lucius did not object. He would have a whole day to plan his next move. Harry did not object. He would have a whole day to plan his next move.

The Guardians of Merlins left first, through the strange hole from which they had come. Then the Aurors left, taking Hermione, their patronuses, and the dementor, slightly smaller but still intact. Then the audience left, Harry among them, and he excused himself to go to the bathroom, where he anchored his time turner inside its shell like Quirrell had shown him, and spun the shell twice. Finally Dumbledore left; but he was only two steps out the door when he disillusioned himself, spun his time turner twice, and reentered.

Two hours earlier, an invisible Harry Potter was wandering around the Wizengamot building, first looking for his earlier self so he could place the "Mess with time if you want" note, then looking for the other side of the wall he had seen cut open. He found it in a secluded storeroom, with ten minutes to spare, set down a piece of paper and marked it with a single tally. Soon he was joined by another Harry, who had used his time turner only once, and another, and another. Rather than take off their invisibility cloaks, they announced their arrival by marking the paper with a second, third, and fourth tally.

Dumbledore watched invisibly from inside the Wizengamot chamber as four invisible Harry Potters used partial transfiguration to cut a hole in the wall. He watched invisibly as four Human Patronuses entered the room. And then an invisible Harry Potter bumped into the invisible Dumbledore, changing events from how they were meant to go; and the entire twisted tangle of time loops collapsed into a paradox and never was. Reality would take a different path, one in which Harry chose a simpler solution, one that did not require three things to all happen.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 March 2012 02:23:12PM 6 points [-]

The next time Eliezer puts up an omake page, he definitely needs to include this.

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 05:47:00PM 6 points [-]

Hell, you could damn near make an omake page out of all the alternate theories we posted.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 28 March 2012 12:37:48AM 6 points [-]

Highly unlikely for something like this to happen in the actual HPMOR -- but I actually enjoyed it, so I thank you for posting it.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 March 2012 01:59:40AM 3 points [-]

I love it!

Especially the last paragraph.

Comment author: CronoDAS 28 March 2012 05:02:03AM 7 points [-]

I was amazed that the readership collectively got almost every element of Harry’s solution, except for the monetary payment, and Harry spooking the Dementor instead of destroying it. (Looking up Philip Tetlock’s original experiment on taboo tradeoffs, taking the definition literally instead of reaching, and then reading the relevant section of Ch. 26 while keeping in mind Conservation of Detail, might have solved the monetary part.)

Well, if you make enough guesses, sometimes one of them will be partly right...

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 March 2012 02:41:22AM 7 points [-]

I wonder what Draco is going to say -- or to remember, for that matter -- about the duel.

Comment author: Nominull 28 March 2012 02:50:06AM *  15 points [-]

I worry that Draco may be more or less written out of this fic - I can't imagine Lucius sending his son back into Voldemort's maw. There are other schools, even if none are as good.

Comment author: kilobug 29 March 2012 04:24:30PM 5 points [-]

He did send his son to Dumbledore's maw, the one he believes burned alive his wife for no reason. I don't think sending him back with Harrymort there would bother him that much. It's not like Harrymort has anything to gain by killing Draco. The danger comes more from Hermione than from Harrymort, and it seems that she's scared enough so she'll never attempt anything against Draco. And Draco will be on guard. So... I think Draco will go back to Hogwarts.

Comment author: thelittledoctor 28 March 2012 03:06:18AM 12 points [-]

Draco's going to want to go back, of course.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 08:12:32PM 18 points [-]

Ha!

Remember when H&C told Hermione that Harry would sacrifice her if she became inconvenient to his plans for global domination? Guess Hermione can tell him to kiss her ass on that one.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 28 March 2012 10:14:08PM 19 points [-]

I doubt she remembers any of that conversation.

Comment author: 75th 30 March 2012 04:55:53PM *  17 points [-]

I wish to register my alarm at this:

This was actually intended as a dry run for a later, serious “Solve this or the story ends sadly” puzzle

Given that he was "amazed" at our performance this time, presumably an equivalent performance would pass the future test — but even if that's true it doesn't comfort me much.

I humbly beg our author to consider simply withholding updates, rather than issuing an ultimatum that may result in us never getting the "true" ending. "I won't post any more chapters until you solve this," rather than "I'm going to torch the last few years of your life if you're not smart enough."

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 31 March 2012 03:52:00AM 4 points [-]

I agree, this is a bad idea. I didn't figure out the answer when it was just for fun; my performance will probably only get worse under stress (and there's not much farther to fall from "uh... well, maybe it has to do with destroying Dementors, I give up").

I know this shows no confidence in my own rationality, or that of the other readers, but can we please just have a normal story?

Comment author: Xachariah 28 March 2012 06:04:10PM *  35 points [-]

Idea: Making the money back will be much more difficult than most people anticipate, including Harry.

Reason: Many wizards are highly motivated towards finance and would exhaust every opportunity to generate infinite gold. The rich wizards of the Wizengamot considered 100,000 galleons to be a lot of money.

First, imagine all the ways a wizard could make effectively infinite amounts of muggle money. Arbitrage. Use a time turner and win at the stock market. Use a time turner and win the super-lotto. Imperius (or love potion, false memory charm, groundhog day attack, etc) any billionaire and take part of their fortune. Mind trick some bankers with fake documents (as Dumbledore does in book 6). Go rob some banks with invisibility and teleportation (and/or a time turner). Use magic to secure a job with a 50 million dollar golden parachute with very generous terms. Make huge amounts of drug money as a courier via teleportation/portkey. Sell 5 galleon trinkets to muggle collectors for millions of dollars each. Etc., etc., etc..

Some of them are more risky, some of them are less risky, but I bet that any member of these forums could get at least $50 million in a week if we were wizards.

And yet, when they mention a price of 100,000 galleons people are shocked. The reaction does not look like it's 1/15th of a week's worth of effort he's got to worry about. Dumbledore views it as a major problem that Harry is 60,000 galleons in debt. We know from chapter 70 that it's a known thing that witches and wizards will trick a muggle with a love potion and rape them. Yet nobody thinks to slip Bill Gates a love potion, convince him to part with $2 billion, and blow Lucius out of the water with 100 million galleons. And these are among the most financially motivated people in all of wizardry, not the common population, who consider 2 million pounds as more than weekend spending money. I notice I am confused.

I'll brainstorm some possible explanations:

  • Gringotts won't mint your gold for a nominal fee: Griphook could have been lying, mistaken, or omitted something. Maybe you bring in a ton of gold and they just laugh at it for not having a special magical signature. Unlikely but possible.

  • Gold isn't available to purchase with muggle money: Wizards could own the gold exchanges and gold mines. They do nominal trading for electronics and jewelry, but the vast share of gold goes to the wizarding world. Possible, but it would drastically change the face of the real world (eg World Reserves would be a lie, and Ron Paul is a wizard).

  • The Department of Magical Law Enforcement is way more effective than I imagine: They can find and intervene in not only all cases of magic misuse (eg imperius or bank robberies), but check other means like love potions. Seems unlikely, considering the current crime investigation and how the last war went. Result - Arbitrage and stock/lottery manipulation work.

  • The wizarding world is full of complete inverse-omega class idiots: Always a good theory. But it doesn't sound right for the entirety of the wizarding world (including a ton of muggle-born) to act so completely stupid.

  • The financial tycoons on Wizengamot actually do this: Maybe most of the Wizengamot fortunes exist due to questionable sources. That would explain the majority of evil people doing the voting. Still, that doesn't explain the reaction to the 100,000 galleons.

  • The people who would do this are not on the Wizengamot: Maybe this does happen. Perhaps all the muggle-born realize how easy it is to live a life of luxury in the muggle world and do exactly that, and only venture into the magical world when the want to go shopping. They have the best conveniences of both worlds and none of the dangers of either. This... actually sounds kinda plausible. Plus, there isn't a great job market for muggle-born.

Something doesn't add up. The Wizengamot is full of bright, ambitious people, most of whom have dedicated their lives to finance (makes 4 unlikely). If they're arguing over lucrative ink importation rights it means they've already figured out arbitrage. They wouldn't worry about importing ink, if they weren't leveraging different prices between the market where they're purchasing ink and the market where they're selling ink. Something as simple as triangle arbitrage should be figured out immediately. If wizards already discovered arbitrage, but they don't try and arbitrage in the muggle markets directly, it would be evidence that 1 or 2 is in play. 3 and 5 are already unlikely, so I guess 1&2 or 6 make sense.

I'd be interested to see if Harry actually manages to make infinite money, and if so what it means about the world.

Comment author: Logos01 29 March 2012 03:46:03AM *  29 points [-]

First, imagine all the ways a wizard could make effectively infinite amounts of muggle money. Arbitrage. Use a time turner and win at the stock market.

Neither of which are known to the Wizarding world, as evidenced by the Occlumency teacher's reaction to his discovery of it. (and his discovery of it, and his discovery of it... :) )

Something doesn't add up.

Your assessment of the Wizarding World's evaluation of the Muggle world. To the supermajority of Wizards, science is a total unknown. Economic and sociopolitical theory are terms they've simply never heard of.

They are isolated and effectively are like the apocryphal Chinese Emperor who burned his fleets because there was nothing left to discover; or the equally apocryphal Patent Office official who wanted to close the Patent Office in the 1800's because there was nothing left to invent.

So basically what you're seeing is what's called "hindsight bias". It is obvious to you, who knows what "Muggles" have, that the Wizards are vastly disadvantaged here -- insanely so -- but remember that as further demonstrated by Draco's total ignorance of Man's visit to the Moon, Wizards believe Muggles are "wallowing in the mud". The idea that they might LEARN from Muggles is actively suppressed by a concerted political campain by a powerful and long-standing major political faction.

Comment author: David_Gerard 28 March 2012 08:50:28PM 14 points [-]

The people who would do this are not on the Wizengamot: Maybe this does happen. Perhaps all the muggle-born realize how easy it is to live a life of luxury in the muggle world and do exactly that, and only venture into the magical world when the want to go shopping. They have the best conveniences of both worlds and none of the dangers of either. This... actually sounds kinda plausible. Plus, there isn't a great job market for muggle-born.

Like going off to live in a poor country if you have a first-world income to live on. I believe it's already been remarked that this is about how magical Britain views muggle Britain.

Comment author: FiftyTwo 29 March 2012 01:58:19PM 12 points [-]

Theres also a psychological dimension to consider. To most wizards, and especially the rich pure bloods who this would be most relevant to, muggles, muggle-borns and anything associated with them are incredibly low status. Mere knowledge of muggles is seen as a major social negative (see treatment of Arthur Weasley). As such they would have a strong incentive not to investigate muggle knowledge, and if you suggested to Lucius that he made his fortune and power from dealing with Muggles his brain might actually explode from shame.

Comment author: kilobug 29 March 2012 03:37:08PM 4 points [-]

Yes, but if it were just that, you would except a few low-status wizard to suddenly become very rich through muggle-side tricks. Arthur Weasley is probably too Gryffindor to do it himself, but since he has quite a lot of work with wizards doing tricks with "muggle artificats", you could except a few of them to get very rich by fiddling with the muggle world (especially muggle born, at 11 you know about stock markets and lottery) if it were so easy.

My best guess is that it's illegal and the law enforcement is strong enough to not be worth the risk. Like, if you suddenly arrive at Gringotts with gold coming from nowhere, an investigation is done, and if that gold comes from a "muggle source", you're in trouble.

Comment author: Alsadius 29 March 2012 12:33:37AM *  11 points [-]

Remember, most of wizarding Britain is either people who were taken out of the muggle world at age 10-11 and don't come back, or people who never lived there at all. How many of them are actually going to understand finance well enough to have a sense of how to exploit it? And the ones who actually have money at Gringott's are almost by definition the ones who never even spent those 11 years in the muggle world, so they may well not have any idea that finance exists. And even if they do, the ignorance and prejudice is rather overpowering, and may well prevent proper use of it. Someone who has both seed capital and the knowledge of how to exploit the crap out of it is going to be rare, and the DMLE is likely going to step on anyone who gets too egregious about using wizarding advantages to do so.

(Edited first sentence for accuracy)

Comment author: Logos01 29 March 2012 03:50:21AM 8 points [-]

Remember, most of wizarding Britain is people who were taken out of the muggle world at age 10-11 and don't come back.

I don't believe this is correct. In fact, isn't there a section in MoR where McGonagall relates to Harry that less than 10 "muggleborn" Wizards are being inducted into Hogwarts that year? (With Harry being one of them?)

Comment author: Alsadius 29 March 2012 08:10:07AM 5 points [-]

Right, I meant to edit that and got distracted. Replace with "Remember, most of wizarding Britain is either people who were taken out of the muggle world at age 10-11 and don't come back or people who never lived there at all".

Comment author: Alicorn 29 March 2012 04:06:32AM 5 points [-]

Halfbloods are more populous, and their Muggle parents probably give them some nontrivial connection to the Muggle world.

Comment author: BlackNoise 28 March 2012 08:13:23PM *  11 points [-]

Some counter-evidence for getting gold being difficult: In chapter 27, Mister Bester (the Legilimens who trained Harry) said:

Though I do wish I could remember that trick with the gold and silver.

Implying that it was at least somewhat practical as a means for getting rich quickly.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 March 2012 08:20:10PM 6 points [-]

Bester has only thought about it for a few seconds so there could be problems that would occur to someone who is knowledgeable about the wizarding economy if they thought about it for a bit.

Comment author: BlackNoise 28 March 2012 10:24:15PM *  12 points [-]

I meant it as Bayesian evidence. (updating P(Arbitrage works) down on Bester regretting means updating up on him not Regretting)

Plus, this is stronger evidence for us than for Harry due to Conservation of Details and the recent disclaimer by EY that there are no red herrings, and that simple solutions != bad solutions (and in fact, the opposite is usually true).

ETA: Also, Bester probably thought about it more more than a few seconds, at least the first time he saw it in Harry's mind - Remember that he didn't just see those Ideas/secrets, he's also seen key moments of his previous conversations.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 March 2012 08:22:24PM 8 points [-]

f they're arguing over lucrative ink importation rights it means they've already figured out arbitrage

Not really. All sorts of arguments and fights over importation rights occurred even during the height of merchantilism. That importing goods can be profitable is a much more obvious claim than that moving goods between markets can be profitable. The second is more abstract. Moreover, they don't think of the Muggle world as that important, so the fact that the Muggle world has imbalanced prices may not be obvious to them as something to even think about.

Comment author: Desrtopa 28 March 2012 06:23:09PM *  33 points [-]

I think that taking advantage of muggles in lots of ways is against the law, so imperiusing or memory charming a billionaire would be forbidden. I wouldn't be at all surprised if people have thought of and maybe tried using time turners to cheat the muggle lottery, so I'd give fair odds that's illegal too. When it comes to arbitrage though, remember that while wizards in general may not be tremendously stupid, they tend to be incredibly clueless about the muggle world; remember that Arthur Weasley can pass as a premier expert on muggle artifacts. The fact that the values of gold and silver in the muggle world are totally divorced from their value in the wizarding world is likely to be very little known, and the concept of arbitrage may be completely foreign to them as well (look how primitive their whole financial system appears to be.)

The fact that Mr. Bester, Harry's occlumency instructor, said he wished he could remember "That trick with the gold and silver" implies that a) the idea is not obvious to most wizards, and b) he thinks he would at least stand a chance of getting away with it.

Comment author: Eponymuse 29 March 2012 12:23:24AM 10 points [-]

I completely agree. Recall also Draco's speech about muggles scratching in the dirt, and his reaction to Harry's estimate of the lunar program budget. It's not just wizards not paying attention to relative values of gold and silver in the muggle world---for the most part, the possibility that there could be a substantial amount of either in the muggle world doesn't occur to them. Now you might expect muggleborns to know better, even after making allowances for the fact that they enter the wizarding world at age 11. On the other hand, if a muggleborn is clever enough to see the potential for profit, they might also be clever enough to see what Harry apparently does not---that calling attention to the fact that the muggles are ripe for exploitation is a Bad Idea.

Comment author: Desrtopa 29 March 2012 12:31:48AM 12 points [-]

Also, as Harry himself speculates, muggleborns, like his mother, probably tend to fall into the habit of not thinking of muggles as Real People anymore, because it's too emotionally taxing, and they're living in a different world. They may stop concerning themselves with the muggle world much by the time they're grown up. The muggle raised wizards in the original canon certainly seemed to.

Comment author: Xachariah 29 March 2012 05:21:37AM *  13 points [-]

I would actually suspect parents of a half blood (is there a name for this?) would be the weak link, rather than muggle-born children.

You've got people who have lived their whole lives as muggles, then suddenly they fall in love and get married and find out their spouse is a wizard. They've spent ~20 years in the muggle world and probably have a career of their own. No way they don't ask their spouse to spend a couple hours and let them both live like kings for the rest of their lives. And if they don't even get that much information about their other's life, that's some seriously messed up power dynamics in that household.

Comment author: Xachariah 28 March 2012 06:42:03PM *  3 points [-]

Oh, I'm sure taking advantage of muggles is treated even worse than taking advantage of pets. But there are a lot of rich people and a lot of ways to steal their money. Ditto with the lottery. Maybe they police the lottery, but do they police stock exchanges, leveraged currency trading, futures markets, prediction accounts, sports betting, Vegas, etc.? It takes ten minutes to think of a dozen ways to get effectively infinite muggle money with magic.

There's no way to stop it all. Hence, the block (if it exists) has to be at the interface point. Somewhere in between when muggle money turns into galleons.

Comment author: Desrtopa 28 March 2012 06:46:32PM 20 points [-]

My guess is that rather than policing any of various muggle institutions, they investigate, as we do in our own world, whenever anyone appears to suddenly come into possession of large amounts of money for no clear reason, and if they find out they did something illegal, they throw them in jail.

Maybe people are already using wizardry to get huge amounts of money through the muggle world, but if so they may have to store and use the money very inconspicuously.

Comment author: TuviaDulin 28 March 2012 08:17:51PM 6 points [-]

This is by far the likeliest explanation I've seen. It does lead one to wonder how many wizards are sitting on huge piles of muggle money and slowly converting it into galleons as needed.

Comment author: Xachariah 28 March 2012 11:49:30PM *  16 points [-]

I wonder if they do. The wizarding world is a bizarre mix of modern and ancient traditions. It seems just as likely for them to have an income tax as not. So, they may or may not have the bureaucratic apparatus in place to know how much money people have and make.

I also wonder what the official stance would be on, say, bilking the stock market. It seems like standing up for muggle rights would be an unpopular political stance. Since there's no direct victim and you're doing things that aren't even illegal in the muggle world (nevermind they don't have time-travel), it seems unlikely the authorities would care to stop you, unless they have a blanket ban on anything that would result in inflation.

God, I'm such a double-nerd. There's a dark lord to be fought and I'm hoping the next plot arc is about wizard tax law and how magical Britain handles inflation.

Comment author: Alsadius 29 March 2012 08:06:03AM *  13 points [-]

The funny thing is, it's not really bilking the stock market. The whole argument for stock trading is that traders create value by accurately pricing securities, and thus allocating capital efficiently. Time travel is just a ridiculously efficient means of doing so. Given common access to Time-Turners, the stock market would literally be perfectly efficient(assuming that using turner-induced stock prices doesn't violate the 6-hour rule). People without them would be very pissed off, but I'd actually argue it as being the right and proper way to run a stock market if the technology existed.

Comment author: Username 01 April 2012 12:22:05AM *  5 points [-]

The only thing is, once you have enough time turners to control most of the volume of the market, there are no longer any linear-time causal inputs (read: people) deciding what directions the market will take. Market fluctuations would literally come from nowhere, though it might be best said that they would come from Time. And given Harry's previous scary experiment (DO NOT MESS WITH TIME, ch. 17), I'm not sure it's such a good idea to let Time be the one to control this.

Comment author: SkyDK 29 March 2012 03:43:58PM 7 points [-]

I disagree. Harry can do partial transfiguration. If he cannot figure out ways to earn insane amounts of cash just through that then he is too retarded to be called rational (remember that he can actually extract resources in ways the wizarding world cannot - as I write in another place: mining ++).

Plus you underestimate the degree of separation between the two worlds plus the extreme lack of respect the wizarding world holds for muggles.

And about the 100.000 galleons: well if they're bright, ambitious and socially aware plus they're using questionable sources they SHOULD act surprised. Not acting surprised would give away their game to the idiots remaining.

I will be severely disappointed if EY will waste time on the money issue. It doesn't deserve much more than a paragraph. Perhaps two just to let us know that Harry won't abuse it, because he doesn't want to call too much attention to himself.

Comment author: wedrifid 29 March 2012 03:57:01PM 3 points [-]

Perhaps two just to let us know that Harry won't abuse it, because he doesn't want to call too much attention to himself.

I really hope Eliezer doesn't spend more than a sentence on that - and even then I would want the sentence to be mild. Any more than that and it would strike me as too much use of explicit sloppy thinking to justify narrative convenience.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 29 March 2012 03:38:21AM 5 points [-]

Certainly, the planning fallacy applies. And even if, for example, arbitrage worked the way it seems, and without the extra pitfalls that have been mentioned, there's a lot more to it than just swapping silver for gold and back. Harry's 11, he can't leave Hogwarts, his finances are tightly controlled by Dumbledore, 100,000 galleons = 1.7 million sickles ~= 17 tonnes of silver. Your dad doesn't just slip that into his back pocket. You're going to need help lifting it, security to guard it, vehicles to move it...

On the other hand, Harry has a lot of resources that haven't even been mentioned yet. There's a house in Godricks hollow for example, and the Granger's would probably be willing to contribute.

He hasn't even really made an accurate count of his vault. He described the stacks as a rough pyramid, but then estimates they're 20 wide and 60 tall - so in other words, each step of the pyramid is only three coins high. I made a small model out of poker chips, and it looks more like a flat than a stack. If it were a normal author, I'd figure the description was bad and the "estimate" was spot on, but EY is smart enough to realize that estimates aren't that accurate. Harry might have underestimated and already have 100,000. Of course, he might have over estimated instead.

Maybe he should learn a magical counting spell.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 29 March 2012 07:08:24AM 5 points [-]

and the Granger's would probably be willing to contribute.

A good chance they could pay off the entire debt. They seemed very well off.

I've got a friend who is a dentist. He could pay it off if he wanted to. 2 dentists? If they had decent business sense, it wouldn't be a problem. This is in the US, however. I'd guess that pay scales are different in Britain.

Comment author: drethelin 29 March 2012 05:35:51AM 4 points [-]

As far as transporting, Harry has a magical chest that contains entire rooms and can walk on its own. Dumbledore, Quirrel, or any bribeable adult wizard can teleport him to gringotts or to any muggle bank or jeweler he would like to go to, and there are definitely spells for swiftly transporting items across a room or whatever. I think by far a bigger problem would be getting any muggle bank to accept 17 tons of silver in a single transaction without any sort of possible background checks.

Comment author: Nornagest 29 March 2012 03:09:02AM *  5 points [-]

He's got plenty of time, and doesn't need that much seed money or that high a growth rate -- unless Lucius has a plan that'll get intolerable well before his payment comes due. I ran some numbers, and if he's making 3% profit on each of one-third of all trading days for six years (which I think is if anything conservative -- the arbitrage hack early in the story would be a couple orders of magnitude more profitable until someone catches on), he needs a principal of a little under 40 Galleons to break the 100,000 mark by the end of year 7. For 60,000, it's more like 25.

That's a decent amount of money if we're going by the prices we've seen for goods, but I'd be surprised if he couldn't borrow it from any of the suitably impressed adults he's surrounded himself with. Especially if they've got a motive to screw the Malfoys over.

Comment author: ygert 29 March 2012 09:29:03AM 16 points [-]

Note that Harry secretly buried 100 Galleons in the backyard of his parents' house back in chapter 36, so having seed money is not an issue.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 29 March 2012 03:30:15AM 5 points [-]

Upvoted for an essentially accurate analysis. However a minor nitpick: The marginal fees and resources involved will likely make this not very profitable if one started out with a small amount of money. So it would make more sense to start out with say at least a hundred Galleons or so. (Incidentally, why are Galleons capitalized? Is that convention? Other currencies like pounds, dollars and euros aren't generally capitalized.)

Comment author: Xachariah 29 March 2012 05:04:51AM *  3 points [-]

And for ridiculousness, have him start with a 100 million superlotto payout and get 5% instead of 3%. He'd have a couple hundred quadrillion dollars by the time he had to pay Lucius back. Obviously he couldn't earn that much. Aside from that much money not existing, they'd shut down all trades well before he got to the first trillion dollars.

But still, it'd be amusing to have him with a giant mountain of gold equivalent to all the worlds combined reserves. "Lucius, you just grab that double-life-sized solid gold statue of myself. Don't worry about the small change, I've got extra."

Comment author: Nornagest 29 March 2012 05:49:08AM *  4 points [-]

Well, sure, that's exponential growth for you. I'd actually rule out the scenario I present in the grandparent on narrative grounds: it's not interesting from a plot or a rationalist perspective to be interrupted every chapter or two with a description of Harry's latest trade, or even with his latest plan to wring another 5% out of his capital. (Maybe not that latter -- Spice and Wolf pulled it off. But that's a different kind of story.) Point is, this doesn't need to be attention-getting in or out of story, just repeatable. There are boring options that would work (day trading with a Time-Turner being only the first to come to mind). Since that's an unstable state for a story and the debt could easily have been omitted, at this point I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I'm not expecting that shoe to come in the form of unexpected changes to the financial structure that the early chapters set up, though. That does paint the Wizengamot in a rather unflattering light, but these are people that have only the vaguest idea of what cars are -- an enormous blind spot concerning the Muggle world is quite consistent with the established culture.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 28 March 2012 08:23:14PM 5 points [-]

maybe I'm forgetting some piece of evidence but couldn't the simple explanation be that muggle gold isn't actually wizard gold and vice versa? Magical signature as mentioned or any number of other ways.

Comment author: see 28 March 2012 09:46:13PM *  11 points [-]

Let's quote the current author's notes:

One thing I did notice was that many readers (a) neglected simple solutions in favor of complex ones, (b) neglected obvious solutions in favor of nonobvious ones, and (c) suggested that the correct hints had been put there for deliberately deceptive purposes.

General announcement: I do not lie to my readers. Almost everything in HPMOR is generated by the underlying facts of the story. Sometimes it is generated by humor – I can’t realistically claim that comic timing that precise would occur in a purely natural magical universe. But nothing is there to deliberately fool the readers.

Methods of Rationality is a rationalist story. Your job is to outwit the universe, not the author. If it taught the lesson that the simple solution is always wrong because it is “too obvious”, it would be teaching rather the wrong moral. There are some cases where people have scored additional points by successful literary analysis, e.g. Checkov’s Gun principles. But the author is not your enemy, and the facts aren’t lies.

Now, yes, it is possible that Eliezer Yudkowsky's Author Note on this very chapter is a lie, and he will suddenly reveal a whole series of barriers to paying the debt that will shut off everything from arbitrage to time turners to Dumbledore using the Philosopher's Stone in the manner allowed in canon, without having given us any previous hints as to what they are. But I think Eliezer Yudkowsky is not lying, and that at least one of the many simple solutions proposed (or another simple solution) will work.

Comment author: IneptatNormal 06 April 2012 04:47:06AM 4 points [-]

I think it's also important to remember that all these fancy smancy new ways of making money haven't really been around that long.

Wizards live to be more than a hundred years old, and in general don't have a bunch of children. There's been only a couple generations in which many of these money making methods have been around - for example, the stock market has only existed in a convenient form since, say, 1910? And this story takes place in 1992. Eighty years really isn't that long in wizard years. And while a small percentage ten-year-olds in the 1990s might happen to have some idea of how the stock market can be manipulated for personal gains, probably only a vastly smaller number may have known in, say, 1940 - before the information age.

The noble houses - the wizards that probably make up the majority of the Wizenagamot - are kind of implied to have been rich and powerful for a long time. If any of these people are young enough to have gone to Hogwarts after the thirties, and been humble enough to have taken Muggle Studies, and really paid attention when it came to the Great Depression, and happened to do background reading on the subject in order to exploit it, then sure, maybe it's already done.

But given the information we have, I doubt this is widely known and regularly done enough to be a problem for Harry.

Comment author: Jonathan_Elmer 30 March 2012 01:20:54AM *  3 points [-]

Why not just chose a muggle institution that has a lot of gold and is corrupt enough you don't mind stealing from(shouldn't be hard) and walk in under the cloak of invisibility, alohomora the locks and fill up the bag of holding with gold? I agree that sounds too easy to not already have been done though.

Comment author: MinibearRex 31 March 2012 06:57:06AM 4 points [-]

I think this one would fall under the jurisdiction of the DMLE. In Canon, there were a few scenes with Arthur Weasley in which he discussed criminal cases involving wizards using magical powers against muggles.

Comment author: GLaDOS 29 March 2012 10:11:27AM *  3 points [-]

Gringotts won't mint your gold for a nominal fee: Griphook could have been lying, mistaken, or omitted something. Maybe you bring in a ton of gold and they just laugh at it for not having a special magical signature. Unlikely but possible.

"I wonder who came up with the idea of suspending liquid latinum inside worthless bits of gold. "

Comment author: 75th 02 April 2012 09:15:55PM 5 points [-]

Almost all the possible consequences of Quirrell's plot with Hermione might have helped Quirrellmort somehow:

  • Hermione goes to Azkaban and Harry goes permanently Dark.
  • Hermione goes to Azkaban and Harry goes permanently Light, killing himself to destroy it.
  • Harry saves Hermione, further antagonizing Draco's father and thereby Draco himself.
  • The wedge is driven further between Harry and Dumbledore.
  • Harry looks very Dark in front of all of wizarding Britain, losing him Light allies.
  • Harry looks very powerful in front of all of wizarding Britain, gaining him influence.
  • Harry vows to wreak havoc on the entire wizarding nation.

The question is which set of events Quirrell most wanted to happen, and whether he will consider the events of Chapter 81 a success or a failure. Harry successfully saved Hermione, which might indicate failure if we take the plot at face value. But Quirrell would surely have foreseen Harry's going to any lengths to save Hermione, and Quirrell knows that Harry read that Rita Skeeter article. Perhaps he

The Harry-horcrux has a speaking part in Chapter 81, saying "DIE" when he looks at Dumbledore. If Quirrell's main goal was not to immediately rid Harry of all his strongest allies, but simply to further coax out Harry's Dark Side and further drive the wedge between Harry and Dumbledore, then he can count it as a success.

Maybe Quirrell didn't actually have one particular outcome in mind; maybe he just wanted to inch the pieces forward so he could plan his next move.

I do hope that tomorrow's chapter shows us what happened with Quirrell, how he got out of his interrogation without drawing attention, and what his mental state is about all this. If everything up to now has gone as planned, surely the rest of the arc will show Quirrell's attempt to make Harry believe that Dumbledore was behind it all. If everything has not gone as planned, if Quirrell did not expect to see Harry spend 250% of his fortune to save Hermione, then Quirrellmort will be pissed, and I shudder to think what his drastic next move might be.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 01 April 2012 07:12:02PM *  5 points [-]

Thoughts on the whole "guess the solution" situation from last chapter.

When I first reached the end of the chapter and the "You have 5 days to find the solution" bit, for some frantic moments I was worried that Eliezer would let get Hermione go to Azkaban if we weren't sufficiently clever to find the solution. It seemed rather unlikely, because we didn't seem to be so very near the end of the whole of HPMOR (and surely Hermione's effective killing would have major repercussions).. but I had already known about the similar situation in Three Worlds Collide, so yeah, I couldn't be quite sure. I read the related author's notes trying to check for a confirmation or the opposite, but there was nothing clearly stated, only the hint that a solution should have been clearly foreshadowed.

At around this point, after a few brief seconds of considering begging Eliezer not to let Hermione get eaten by Dementors, no matter whether we find the solution or not -- I just decided to do the simpler and slightly less embarrassing thing and actually figure out the solution instead. (Reading the author's notes had convinced that it was meant to be a fair solution after all)

I must have come up with the idea in 5 minutes after that, as I was rereading the chapter. I don't remember the exact thought-process, but I do remember that the solution "snapped easily into place" as Eliezer mentioned. When I thought it, I was certain this was the solution. It was pretty much the only earlier significant discussion of the handling of debts in Wizarding society. From an authorial-perspective it explained why Fred&George's article had to talk about saving Arthur Weasley from the Imperius curse, instead of saving his life. That a trading-of-debts was possible was indicated in the very previous chapter (though the particular debts mentioned wouldn't have been valid).

So, yeah, once I had thought it up, I was pretty confident it was the real solution, enough to bet money on (and win some money) it. It had snapped into place.

During the later discussions I did think also about whether Malfoy will try to bankrupt the Potters in addition to the debt, because I did consider the fact that the monetary compensation of Arthur Weasley was also mentioned in that Rita Skeeter article... which thought was also partly behind several of my various specifications I listed at the time I did the bet-- it being a lesser debt, it being only part of the solution, etc, but I didn't mention it for two reasons (a) At this point Eliezer had already clarified that Harry's solution was really written, and that therefore my adding further details wouldn't actually help save Hermione (b) I had been sufficiently convinced by Malfoy "not for any price will I trade away vengeance", etc, that I thought it would most likely not be a monetary debt that Malfoy would seek in compensation.

(b) was wrong, because I didn't properly consider that Malfoy might make an offer that he believed it certain to be refused, and that would be obvious to all that he thought it certain to be refused. I should have considered this possibility, because after all Lucius had already done the same in the current chapter.

What I thought Malfoy might seek in additional compensation, or that Harry Potter might offer in additional compensation, if the two debts didn't cancel themselves out... would be an Unbreakable Vow towards the purpose of hunting down whoever was behind the plot to hurt Draco or the killing of Narcissa; much parallleling the earlier promise Harry made to Draco himself. I felt this was the sort of thing that might let both Lucius Malfoy and the Wizengamot save face; and yet would produce interesting consequences further down the line.

Comment author: mjr 28 March 2012 08:12:12AM 5 points [-]

Good bit, though a bit of a hodgepodge. I presume the real culprit will be found, but that doesn't necessarily counter the debt - the Wizengamot would have to agree, and the truth could be found out in a way that leaves little actual proof, even aside issues of Wizengamot's fairness. I'll be disappointed if paying the debt turns out to be too arduous though, but of course depending on the methods chosen there may be side effects. (One way would be for Draco to accept a counterdebt, having been convinced of the truth of the matter and seeing that being on good terms with Harry is still of value. Assuming Draco will return, which is sadly not a given.)

Merely spooking the Dementor was a good twist on the common (mine included) anticipation of it ending up destroyed. The telling of the incident was cleverly arranged not to give out too much new information on how they actually work. Harry's theory of them operating on the expectations of others works as an explanation; as the animal Patronuses imperfectly shield the Wizengamot from the Dementor, thus they shield the Dementor from their expectations, leaving Harry's dominant. (Also, one might argue that the Dementor shirking from Harry was wholly unexpected to almost everyone present, thus they didn't really have sufficiently direct active expectations on that particular thing either way. But this is an unnecessary side hypothesis.) The Dementor may as well still have also some internal intelligence and self preservation instincts though, as has been hypothesised especially on the grounds of them all refusing co-operation with the Azkaban guards earlier.

In any case, now the expectations of many will actually support Dementors fleeing from Harry, which might come in handy if they at least partially work off of those ;)

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2012 01:08:35PM 13 points [-]

Prophecy update!

Like most readers, I took Trelawney's magical clock for a listening device. What if it transmits instead of receives?

We've seen Dumbledore manipulating events into storylike patterns. He was the instigator of the three-way tie, and he precipitated Snape's fall and eventual redemption by the power of love.

In his Fortress of Regrets, Dumbledore gave the surface appearance of being terribly reluctant to allow his decisions to cause the deaths of others. But in the last chapter he was ready to let a small child be tortured to death - with much trembling reluctance, of course - in order to preserve his plans.

Could he have caused Trelawney to deliver the prophecy, triggering the other half of Snape's destiny, while feeding the Potters to Voldemort to create his orphan hero?

Dumbledore meant for Voldemort to have been killed by Lily's sacrifice. He believes it happened. Instead, Voldemort, taking the obvious trap (thanks Vladimir!) as a challenge to his wit (thanks Gwern!), pretended to lose (thanks buybuydandavis!), while fulfilling the letter of the prophecy in a manner maximally advantageous to himself.

He disarmed the trap by goading Lily into attacking him. He left a burnt husk of a body - not his, Avada Kedavra leaves no marks - and departed unharmed. Voldemort's not a ghost possessing Quirrell. He stole Quirrell's body the way he stole Harry's, although the defect in the copying process is different. He doesn't need Bellatrix's flesh to rise again. He rescued her, at least in part, while acting in the role of someone who'd been fooled by Dumbledore's ruse.

Events have followed the course of prophecy because someone created one as a deception and someone else played along as a counter-deception.

It looks viable to me. What do you think?

Comment author: [deleted] 30 March 2012 12:05:42AM 15 points [-]

Oh hey. And we have a confession.

"I'm sorry to say, Harry, that I am responsible for virtually everything bad that has ever happened to you."

I actually noticed the dissonance when I read this, that Dumbledore had apparently overlooked the biggest and most obvious tragedy of Harry's life. But I didn't realize what it meant. Whoops.

Comment author: FAWS 31 March 2012 11:30:33PM *  5 points [-]

And more significantly:

"Severus," Albus Dumbledore said, and his voice almost cracked, "do you realize what you are saying? If Harry Potter and Voldemort fight their war with Muggle weapons there will be nothing left of the world but fire!"

"What?" said Minerva. She had heard of guns, of course, but they weren't that dangerous to an experienced witch -

Severus spoke as though she weren't in the room. "Then perhaps, Headmaster, he is sending a deliberate warning to Harry Potter of exactly that; saying that any attack with Muggle weapons will be met with retaliation in kind. Command Mr. Potter to cease his use of Muggle technology in his battles; that will show him the message is received... and not give him any more ideas." Severus frowned. "Though, come to think of it, Mr. Malfoy - and of course Miss Granger - well, on second thought a blanket prohibition on technology seems wiser -"

The old wizard pressed both his hands to his forehead, and from his lips came an unsteady voice, "I begin to hope that it is Harry behind this escape... oh, Merlin defend us all, what have I done, what have I done, what will become of the world?"

There aren't really any other good candidates for what he might have done to cause this particular problem (even if he felt responsibility on account of e g. not having been able to beat Voldemort permanently himself it seems unlikely to phrase it like that).

Comment author: alex_zag_al 29 March 2012 07:27:56PM *  8 points [-]

He disarmed the trap by goading Lily into attacking him.

Unnecessary detail, may or may not be the case. If he was aware of the trap, it would not matter whether this disarmed it; he just needed to not cast Avada Kedavra on Harry. Harry's memory of the event does not end with Voldemort casting the Killing Curse on him.

Comment author: alex_zag_al 29 March 2012 01:58:20PM 4 points [-]

Avada Kedavra leaves no mark, but getting killed by Lily's ritual sacrifice might. Even so, that the body was burned, which makes identification harder, is suggestive that it is not really Voldemort's.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2012 02:27:32PM *  6 points [-]

Yeah, I'm less confident in the notion that Voldemort survived Godric's Hollow, and it's not integral to the hypothesis, but that's the obvious explanation for a burnt body, and the last few chapters have given me a new respect for obvious explanations.

Comment author: Eponymuse 01 April 2012 04:29:21PM 3 points [-]

It's also difficult to see why Voldemort would want to pretend to die at Godric's Hollow. He was winning the war. Why pretend to lose, throw away what he had built up to then, and try an entirely different approach to gaining power? I think the more obvious explanation for the burnt body is that whatever ritual magic protected Harry was very destructive to Voldemort. I think it is clear that some ritual magic is involved here; how else can we explain the danger of Harry's and Quirrell's magic interacting? And the violence of their magics' interaction in Azkaban makes it plausible that if Voldemort were to cast a killing curse directly at Harry, he might end up as a burnt corpse.

Comment author: thelittledoctor 28 March 2012 02:34:12AM 11 points [-]

I think my favorite part of this update comes not from the chapter, but from the Author's Notes:

"If you write sufficiently good fanfiction, you can realize your romantic dreams!"

(Although "Make him go away" is either tied for the position or a close second.)

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 03:00:30AM 11 points [-]

I have a suspicion that the average fanfic-created relationship is not caused by anything best described as "good".

Comment author: drethelin 28 March 2012 05:45:20PM 4 points [-]

Am I the only one that doesn't think Harry is going to pay off Lucius as fast as possible? Unless the demands on Harry are seriously onerous this is a superb opportunity to learn about the most powerful family and one of the most powerful wizards in Magical Britain. From a story perspective, it gives Eliezer an easy way to add difficulty to Harry's life at any point and a good chance to keep writing about villains like Lucius instead of boring villains like the Jugson kid. I think Harry will end up working with Lucius to uncover who framed Hermione.

Comment author: Nominull 28 March 2012 02:48:46AM 4 points [-]

I would say that the "most wise" one among Dumbledore, Quirrell, and Harry is definitely not the one whose model does not account for observed reality.

Comment author: loserthree 28 March 2012 04:29:43PM 3 points [-]

When we look at another person's action and assume a simple reason, "not their role," "lacking serious ambition," or "crazy, just crazy," we make an excuse not to spend more time modeling their motivations. That may be useful and efficient.

I think the author believes it is most wise to avoid the easy answers and continue to examine the problem.

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 02:27:06AM *  4 points [-]

Why, indeed, would wizards with enough status and wealth to turn their hands to almost any endeavor, choose to spend their lives fighting over lucrative monopolies on ink importation

Oh god, why did you have to go there. Whyyyy

Edit: at least you didn't mention the squid

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 02:36:23AM 3 points [-]

Am I missing something?

Comment author: thelittledoctor 28 March 2012 03:07:44AM *  7 points [-]

This.

But gaze not overlong into that particular abyss.

Edit: In retrospect, TvTropes itself is probably the bigger abyss of the two. So don't gaze overlong into that one either.

Comment author: FAWS 29 March 2012 12:18:14PM 4 points [-]

Could you summarize to spare us from gazing into that abyss?

Comment author: Rejoyce 31 March 2012 05:09:56PM *  10 points [-]

A matter with the Comed-Tea that was bugging me for a while:

Chapter 14:

SO THAT'S HOW THE COMED-TEA WORKS! Of course! The spell doesn't force funny events to happen, it just makes you feel an impulse to drink right before funny things are going to happen anyway!

Hypotheses: Comed-Tea on person = impulse to drink, Comed-Tea not on person = no impulse to drink.

According to Chapter 12:

Harry couldn't help but feel the urge to drink another Comed-Tea. (And when he didn't...) Harry inhaled his own saliva and went into a coughing fit just as all eyes turned toward him.

So no matter what, even if you don't end up drinking it, you will get the Impulse before something funny happens.

Chapter 46:

I have been saving them for special occasions; there is a minor enchantment on them to ensure they are drunk at the right time. This is the last of my supply, but I do not think there will ever come a finer occasion.

So Harry has used up all of his Comed-Tea. (edit: it appears that Harry actually has tons left unless he's not mentioning some he drank/gave away, look at bottom of post)

...

WHY? WHYYY?!

It is apparent that you'll still get the impulse to drink whether or not you do end up drinking. So why didn't he save a can he's never ever going to drink?

Even if Harry will end up choking on his saliva, wouldn't the early notification of something ridiculous happening be helpful to him in any way? Like... it'd be an early warning to be prepared for whatever another person could say/do in conversation. Or if he's looking for interesting information, say from the library, he can just walk by all the shelves until he gets the Impulse-- that'd be an indicator that he's near the shelf that has the interesting book. There might be more uses.

Chapter 14:

Thankfully, Harry’s panicking brain remembered at this point that he did have something he’d been planning to discuss with Professor McGonagall. Something important and well worth her time. It was at this point that Harry realized he was faced with a priceless and possibly irreplaceable opportunity to offer Professor McGonagall a Comed-Tea and he couldn’t believe he was seriously thinking that and it would be fine the soda would vanish after a few seconds and he told that part of himself to shut up.

The charm even works for other people. If, for example, Harry wishes to test whether or not someone knows that Voldemort is alive, he could see if he has the Impulse to give that person a drink, all while thinking about saying that "The Dark Lord is still alive". If he gets the Impulse, they don't know. If he doesn't, then they already know/has been suspecting that he's been alive.

Chapter 8:

The boy reached into his pouch and said, "can of soda", retrieving a bright green cylinder. He held it out to her and said, "Can I offer you something to drink?"

Hermione politely accepted the soda. In fact she was feeling sort of thirsty by now.

In fact, just asking, "Are you feeling thirsty?" seems to be enough to trigger the charm's apparent spit-taking powers. Harry could think about talking about Voldemort, and ask if the other person's thirsty. If yes, they would take whatever he's going to say as a surprise, if no, then they won't. Geebus this thing is powerful.


edit: actually, I'm going to check the text and see Harry actually used up his supply. Be right back.

Chapter 7: “Two dozen cans please.” (24) He tossed a can to Draco and then started feeding his pouch... (23) (Harry's drinking one too) (22) Harry snarled, threw the can violently into a nearby garbage can, and talked back over to the vendor. “One copy of The Quibbler, please.” He paid over four more Knuts, retrieved another can of Comed-Tea from his pouch... (21)

Chapter 8: The boy reached into his pouch and said, “can of soda”, retrieving a bright green cylinder. He held it out to her and said, “Can I offer you something to drink?” (20)

Chapter 12: Harry reached into his pouch and whispered, “Comed-Tea”. (19)

Chapter 46: “Three sodas." (16)

Nevermind, Harry lied, he still has tons unless he's been drinking them and not mentioning it. However the Comed-Tea hasn't been mentioned since, so it might actually be all gone.

Comment author: bogdanb 01 April 2012 11:31:11AM *  6 points [-]

Chapter 17:

"I'm feeling thirsty," Harry said, "and that is not at all a good sign."

Dumbledore entirely failed to ask any questions about this cryptic statement.

He doesn’t seem to choke after this, but there follow several occasions where might have, had he been drinking. Anyway, the sentence means he kind of does use the Comed-Tea to kind-of-sort-of-predict the future, albeit not systematically.

Regarding the counting, his line in chapter 14 might be meant to suggest he had been doing more experiments “not on camera”. There are only three occasions where he’s seen using it until then; he shouldn’t have been that frustrated about the explanation after that few tries.

Comment author: Eponymuse 31 March 2012 10:13:55PM 5 points [-]

If, for example, Harry wishes to test whether or not someone knows that Voldemort is alive, he could see if he has the Impulse to give that person a drink, all while thinking about saying that "The Dark Lord is still alive". If he gets the Impulse, they don't know. If he doesn't, then they already know/has been suspecting that he's been alive.

Unless he actually followed through with saying that Voldemort is still alive, this wouldn't be enough.

Comment author: Vaniver 28 March 2012 05:45:20AM 18 points [-]

Harry Potter is not so clever, part 2. (Perhaps I should call this "advice for Harry," to be less negative.)

"I accept your offer," said Harry's lips, without any hesitation, without any decision having been made; just as if the internal debate had been pretense and illusion, the true controller of the voice having been no part of it. "I should have the whole amount ready by the end of the month." It would take his arbitrage trick, but certainly the Headmaster would let him do that instead of going into debt to Malfoy.

Lucius Malfoy stood motionless, frowning down at Harry. "Who is she to you, then? What is she to you, that you would pay so much to keep her from harm?"

"My friend," the boy said quietly. "As is your son- I would have fought as hard and paid as much to keep him from Azkaban."

"Save it," Harry suggested.

"Let us all go home, indeed." His blue eyes were locked on Harry, as hard as sapphires.

Harry looked further up.

"This is how far I go for my friends, Lord Malfoy. And now that Hermione is safe, I would like your permission to visit Draco. "

Overall: what the heck is Harry's model of Malfoy? Why has he not put any effort into developing it? Why, for the love of wisdom, scare him in public?

It may not be too late to turn him from an enemy to an ally, but Harry is making this too hard on himself. His flair for the dramatic is not helping things, either.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 28 March 2012 12:48:52PM 8 points [-]

"I should have the whole amount ready by the end of the month." It would take his arbitrage trick, but certainly the Headmaster would let him do that instead of going into debt to Malfoy.

Even if he does his arbitrage trick, what benefit would he get from telling it to Malfoy in advance. Why share unnecessary information with a potential adversary? Why risk additional penalties if something unexpected happens and the arbitrage takes five weeks instead of four?

Comment author: Vaniver 28 March 2012 02:38:31PM *  3 points [-]

The point there was to avoid the "I can't let you do that, Harry" by making it obvious to Dumbledore (who knows Harry's current wealth) that Harry has a trick up his sleeve. Mentioning the arbitrage trick in public would be a terrible decision, which is why Harry just thinks that.

Comment author: kilobug 28 March 2012 12:08:12PM 8 points [-]

I'm doubtful about the arbitrage trick to really work that smoothly - goblins will get suspicious quickly, and it'll probably be seen as a threat to the Statute of Secrecy and would lead to legal troubles from the wizarding side. It would have to be done slowly and quietly to go on, not to be rushed in a few months.

Comment author: Vaniver 28 March 2012 02:47:48PM *  6 points [-]

Also problematic is that the Wizarding world undervalues Galleons and overvalues Sickles. If he can pay the debt in 1.7 million Sickles, then he's fine- but if he has to pay them in Galleons, and he just modified the Galleon-Sickle exchange rate to 50-1, then he's worse off. (He might have made enough from the arbitrage to pay back Malfoy, but maybe not.)

Worst comes to worst, he asks Dumbledore to cure some rich muggles with cancer who are willing to pay.

[edit]Remember, the trick only needs to work once. Take out 40k galleons, convert it to muggle gold (probably necessary, but maybe not), convert it to 50 times as much silver by weight, convert it to Sickles, and now he has (if they're the same weight coins) 2M Sickles, minus conversion losses. Hand off 1.7M of them to Lucius (or get them changed at Gringotts), and the debt is cleared.

Now, Harry triples his money every time he does the trick- so he'll probably want to try it several times before losing a lot of his principal. But that's not a big issue.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 March 2012 03:54:56PM 10 points [-]

Worst comes to worst, he asks Dumbledore to cure some rich muggles with cancer who are willing to pay.

I think that the can of worms of why wizards don't immediately go cure world hunger etc. is best left to be opened near the end of the fic, if at all.

Comment author: Multiheaded 28 March 2012 10:49:04PM *  10 points [-]

Actually, there's a fairly complicated question of why don't we immediately go cure world hunger. I mean, the production and logistics aspects wouldn't be very difficult compared to what today's industry can output on an everyday basis. I guess that it's 80% pure irrationality and only 20% politics.

Comment author: Alsadius 29 March 2012 07:52:40AM 10 points [-]

You mean IRL? It mostly boils down to "we've tried giving hungry people food, it doesn't work, and that's pretty much all the ideas we've got". It's a much messier problem than it seems at first glance, and it isn't all politics or insanity. To pick the most obvious, when you dump planes full of grain on the tarmac in Zimbabwe, what did you just do the finances of the local farmers who now need to compete with free? And what does that do to next year's crop?

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 06:43:07AM 19 points [-]

Harry may be an overachiever, but he's still 11 - he's allowed to be bad at manipulating people. He's still at the "All I have to do is out-clever everyone and I can take over the world" stage. He has the tools to pull it off much of the time, but he still thinks of his opponents as pieces, not as players, which is a pretty serious hole in his worldview when it comes to things like manipulating Lucius Malfoy.

Comment author: loserthree 28 March 2012 03:46:18PM 6 points [-]

It's an interest-free loan. Unless the "certain rights" Lucius has over HJPEV until graduation are troublesome, it is in probably HJPEV's best interest to delay paying the loan back as long as possible.

Or unless, I suppose, he expects significant deflation before graduation. I don't think any of the HJPEV's plans that we know of are likely to result in deflation, quite the opposite in fact.

Comment author: Vaniver 29 March 2012 12:11:06AM 8 points [-]

It's an interest-free loan. Unless the "certain rights" Lucius has over HJPEV until graduation are troublesome, it is in probably HJPEV's best interest to delay paying the loan back as long as possible.

Dumbledore was willing to send Hermione to Azkaban to prevent Lucius from getting those rights (well, and the money). It seems likely to me that they're troublesome.

Comment author: TimS 30 March 2012 09:12:35PM 3 points [-]

Or that it doesn't fit Dumbledore's narrative.

Comment author: loserthree 28 March 2012 05:55:47PM *  9 points [-]

Edit: While some points may remain useful for the sake of reference, this theory is disproved in Chapter 82, and Aberforth's death no longer lacks narrative purpose.

Who killed Narcissa?

Suspects:

  • Dumbledore

  • Bones

  • Lucius

  • Voldemort

  • Someone else

HJPEV tells us that this doesn't fit the headmaster's style. His style is curiously consistent.

There is one offhand remark, vengeance, and a practical cold-heartedness favoring Bones. "Why not Bones?" is only a little better than no argument at all.

Lucius is presented as a devoted family man. It would be inconsistent characterization for him to do this. That works for real life, but HP&tMoR is fiction, which must make sense.

Voldemort has reason not to do this, as it made a fool out of one of his tools and weakened his side by making them less willing to strike indiscriminately.

I have a 'someone else' theory: Aberforth killed Narcissa. Aberforth is dead, and meaningfully so due to Conservation of Detail. We know little else about him from HP&tMoR. Only that he didn't testify against his brother in the death of his sister, and his brother got quite stern when he died. Basically, this theory allows me to put a piece in a puzzle because it fits, not because the image on the piece makes me think it goes with the pieces next to the hole. Also, I get to write the following paragraph.

In a world where innocents are dying, where evil is winning and good people live in fear for their loved ones, one man had the courage to do what must be done. Aberforth Dumbledore is Narcissa's Immolator.

Aberfoth kills his enemy's wife, informs his brother of what he's done, and then dies either at his own hand or, less style-consistently, his brother's. He knows that his brother will take this atrocity/sacrifice and make the best of it, and in so doing he saved countless 'light side' family members.

He did it all to make up for killing his sister and allowing his brother to kind of take the blame. Maybe.

Comment author: Eponymuse 29 March 2012 01:25:34AM *  9 points [-]

There is one offhand remark, vengeance, and a practical cold-heartedness favoring Bones. "Why not Bones?" is only a little better than no argument at all.

Also there is the fact (mentioned by someone else, sorry I forget who) that Narcissa's sister, Bellatrix, murdered Bones' brother. Edit: I am an idiot, you already mentioned this.

Bringing in Aberforth is a really interesting idea. Now that I think about it, even given the wizarding wars, it is remarkable that so many siblings have died or nearly died:

  • Albus/Aberforth

  • Bellatrix/Narcissa

  • Bones/her brother (who, exactly?)

  • Petunia/Lily

The last one is interesting with the role of survivor exchanged as well, since there is a hint that Petunia may have threatened suicide in order to convince Lily to brew the beauty potion.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 29 March 2012 07:24:24AM 4 points [-]

Also there is the fact (mentioned by someone else, sorry I forget who) that Narcissa's sister, Bellatrix, murdered Bones' brother.

Also, Bones is the one who speaks up to stop Dumbledore from "confessing" to killing Narcissa.

I think it's Bones. Too many coincidences otherwise.

Comment author: DanPeverley 28 March 2012 03:34:54AM 9 points [-]

I am really interested in how this is all going to work back at Hogwarts. Harry has already been pushing the envelope in the past, but this was a public power display. Draco's out for a while, Hermione will be considered a murderess by significant portions of the school (and apparently she's now magically sworn to obey Harry?), Quirrel is doing... something... and all the schemers and plotters are scheming and plotting on overdrive. I think the money will really be the least of Harry's concerns before this tangle is unwoven. I sort of enjoy learning little bits about Eliezer in the author's notes. "Why yes, I do lead the same sort of life as fanfiction characters, thank you for noticing," made me laugh quietly to myself. This is doubtless because I am a gossip-monger and a hopless platonic voyeur of other peoples lives.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 07:16:23PM 5 points [-]

Hermione will be considered a murderess

That's attempted murderess and Minion#1 in Harry's Dark Army.

Maybe Hermione needs to join Chaos Legion now. I don't see how she can be credible as a leader in opposition to Harry anymore, even in a game.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 06:27:16AM 4 points [-]

Unless EY adds it in, Harry forgot to snap his fingers.

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 06:44:06AM 10 points [-]

But he threatened to, and that's almost as bad.

Comment author: bogdanb 28 March 2012 09:22:47PM 4 points [-]

Snapping fingers means “I can do anything”. Saying “Boo” means “I scare Dementors”.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 29 March 2012 08:22:23PM 3 points [-]

He doesn't need a miracle to scare dementors.

Comment author: aladner 30 March 2012 04:49:46PM *  11 points [-]

"Enough, Mr. Potter," said Professor McGonagall. "We shall be late for afternoon Transfiguration as it is. And do come back here, you're still terrifying that poor Dementor." She turned to the Aurors. "Mr. Kleiner, if you would!"

Is it just me, or does that NOT sound like someone who just found out that dementors, thought to be manifestations of fear, are afraid of her student? I'm guessing it's one of two things:

  • She's so relieved that one of her student isn't going to be tortured to death that she isn't really processing everything else that's going on or

  • She thinks the whole thing is a trick Harry and Dumbledore came up with, and dementors aren't really afraid of Harry.

Either one could lead to a very entertaining aftermath.

Comment author: FAWS 30 March 2012 09:10:42PM 11 points [-]

Unlike most of the room she knows Harry well enough that even him scaring a Dementor, no matter how surprising, wouldn't make her personally afraid of Harry; she might be worried about what trouble he could cause but she knows perfectly well that he wouldn't do anything to her. Besides it was less of a surprise for her since Dumbledore already told her Harry had developed a new charm.

Comment author: loserthree 31 March 2012 06:54:08AM 10 points [-]

McGonagall is House Head of Gryffindor.

She is just that unflappable.

Comment author: pedanterrific 31 March 2012 07:51:10AM 6 points [-]

You have no idea how tempted I am to go back through the story and come up with a montage of Minerva sputtering incoherently / tearing her hair out / sticking her fingers in her ears and going la la la / at a loss for words / blurting something inadvisable / etc.

Comment author: loserthree 31 March 2012 02:58:46PM *  11 points [-]
Comment author: erratio 31 March 2012 08:08:45PM *  5 points [-]

Or, you know, relief + dry sense of humour = exactly that kind of reaction as a coping mechanism.

I am reminded of why I prefer British comedy to American - in American comedies everyone tends to be very obvious and melodramatic, while in British the tendency is more towards understated and deadpan. McGonagall's reaction fits perfectly into the latter category, trivialising the entire situation rather than mugging for the audience. (Not that some of the humour in the earlier chapters hasn't been overblown melodrama. Harry's parents leaving the room to have hysterics stands out as the most obvious example)

Comment author: [deleted] 30 March 2012 08:18:10PM 12 points [-]

Or, she's simply ceased to be surprised at the extent of Harry's abilities outpacing her expectations of them.

Comment author: Osuniev 23 December 2012 02:28:05AM *  3 points [-]

re-reading chapter 76 made me realise the prophecy could not be about Voldemort at all :

Let's look at this prophecy in detail :

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches,"

Vanquish, as Snape said, is a strange word to describe a baby accidentally toasting Voldemort, especially since we have evidence that this might not be what really happened. "Dark Lord" is used by EY quite loosely, and not as something specifically relating to Voldemort. Indeed, Dumbledore seems to worry that he could be this Dark Lord. Now, if we step outside of what we think we know about the prophecy...

Who is Harry trying to "vanquish" ? Who is it which Harry has "the power to Vanquish" ?

Dementors ? Death in general ? Dementors as an incarnation of Death ?

Could Death be considered as the Dark Lord ? I admit this is stretching the use of the word Dark Lord, but it does sounds interesting and more appropriate to Vanquish. Now, bear with me a moment and let's look at the rest of the prophecy : Born to those who have thrice defied him,

Now, while Lily and James have defied death 3 times, there's a million person in the same case on the planet. But WHO has defied Death three times in the Universe ?

The Peverell Brother. Harry's ancestors through the Potter Family.

Born as the seventh month dies, And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal,

The Tale of the Three Brothers specifically says : "..."And then he [the third brother Ignotus, owner of the Cloak] greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, as equals, they departed this life." Harry having the Cloak works, as such. Alternatively, Harry "killing" Dementors make Death and he litteraly equals, in that they can destroy each other.

But he will have power the Dark Lord knows not,

The only unique powers Harry has are Dementor 2.0 and partial transfiguration Dementor 2.0 seems rather good.

And either must destroy all but a remnant of the other, For those two different spirits cannot exist in the same world.

I find really interesting that nowhere it is said that the dark lord "lives". "Destroy all but a remnant" could mean Dementing Harry, or Destroying all dementors except one, or giving Philosopher's Stones to everyone but without the death rate falling to zero (because accidental Death would still happen buit would not be an inevitability.

Note that this theory (still improbable, if I had to bet on it I wouldn't assign more than a 15 % chance for Death to be the "Dark Lord" of the prophecy) is still compatible with Dumbledore trying to trick Voldemort in a Dark ritual, or both of them interpreting the prophecy as in canon.

Comment author: Desrtopa 31 March 2012 01:28:39AM 3 points [-]

Question entirely unrelated to the current events of the story:

What would happen if a person bought a pack of Comed-Tea and committed to drinking one every morning with breakfast?

Comment author: Pavitra 31 March 2012 04:21:23PM 5 points [-]

Harry sometimes successfully resists the urge to drink Comed-Tea, and then something spit-take-inducing happens anyway. It's just a prediction with a clever user interface, not an artifact of eldritch power (except to the extent that predicting the future constitutes eldritch power, which is a nontrivial extent).

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 30 March 2012 02:07:34AM 3 points [-]

Since we're doing this by chapter now, I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I'm not sure where to put it otherwise.

I was rereading chapter 26, Noticing Confusion, and-- maybe I'm not the first person to notice this-- I was thinking of a certain other indestructible diary.

Surely Quirrelmort wouldn't give Harry that diary, right? But if the book is indestructible, and made of paper, there is magic involved. He does say Bacon was a wizard, but also that his experiments never got very far without a wand. Making books indestructible does not seem like not getting very far.

Comment author: see 30 March 2012 03:43:35AM 6 points [-]

Surely Quirrelmort wouldn't give Harry that diary, right?

I thought it was fairly obviously that diary, and thus an effort by Quirrelmort to take over/destroy Harry the way Ginny was (almost) in canon. Harry has apparently avoided the trap entirely because he is under the logically reasonable impression that he needs to learn Latin to read Roger Bacon's diary. I'm pretty sure other people have reached the same conclusion in previous threads.

We then see a second effort to approximately the same end with the Dementor brought on school grounds (at Quirrelmort's instigation) with Harry's wand "accidentally" being left near the cage.

Comment author: Anubhav 31 March 2012 02:32:08AM 4 points [-]

Jbeq bs Tbq fnlf bgurejvfr. (Pgey-S 'rnegu-funggrevat')

Comment author: mjr 29 March 2012 08:14:00AM 3 points [-]

I notice that I am confused.

I've been doubting Quirrel being Mr. Hat on a story-obviousness-basis, being partial to twists. But rationally, it makes no sense to very much doubt the obvious solution with no comparably well-supported alternatives (despite having reached for ones). I wouldn't wonder if that was even the moral there.

Comment author: Incorrect 28 March 2012 02:40:35AM *  3 points [-]

they also believe that Merlin fought the dread Totoro and imprisoned the Ree.

Oh god where are they being held?

Comment author: Randaly 28 March 2012 04:26:59AM 3 points [-]

I believe that passage was implying that the wizards in question were very credulous- unable "to distinguish the truth among a hundred plausible lies."

Comment author: Incorrect 28 March 2012 04:44:50AM 13 points [-]

So the Ree are still loose then!?!?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 06:26:37AM 8 points [-]

Heee~eeey!

Comment author: loserthree 28 March 2012 04:31:42PM 8 points [-]

Um. Hi, Rei.

We'd, uh, we'd like you to give Mr. Yudkowsky back, if you don't mind.

Comment author: linkhyrule5 28 March 2012 09:10:30PM 3 points [-]

Whatcha doin'?

Comment author: CronoDAS 28 March 2012 05:22:45AM 4 points [-]

More likely they never existed in the first place.

Comment author: Percent_Carbon 28 March 2012 06:41:06AM 3 points [-]

A world should be so fortunate.

Comment author: Anubhav 28 March 2012 04:14:01AM 3 points [-]

What on earth are the Ree?

Google turns up nothing.

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 04:15:16AM *  7 points [-]

They're from this.

Comment author: jimrandomh 29 March 2012 04:55:15PM *  11 points [-]

Prediction: Harry will try to explain the general concept of arbitrage to Dumbledore, and it will be blocked by the Interdict of Merlin.

Because otherwise, certain things about the wizarding economy make no sense at all.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 March 2012 09:44:02PM 21 points [-]

Funny, but unfortunately people telling other people things is exactly what the Interdict of Merlin doesn't forbid.

Comment author: FAWS 29 March 2012 09:45:34PM 10 points [-]

The Interdict of Merlin blocking transmission of non-magical knowledge between living minds?

Comment author: nickernst 29 March 2012 06:20:41PM 6 points [-]

The magics of Echo Gnomics from the Counterweight Continent?

Comment author: Alex_Altair 29 March 2012 05:12:48PM 3 points [-]

I don't quite understand. Arbitrage has nothing to do with magic.

Comment author: Blueberry 28 March 2012 11:00:10AM 10 points [-]

I love Chapter 81, but it would have been way better if Draco was the one accused of murder, so Harry could marry Draco.

Comment author: Anubhav 28 March 2012 01:00:36PM 6 points [-]

He didn't marry Hermione.

Comment author: anotherblackhat 28 March 2012 09:10:55PM 3 points [-]

He also didn't get Hermione pregnant.

Comment author: thomblake 28 March 2012 06:54:37PM 4 points [-]

I smell omake

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 07:49:17PM *  5 points [-]

There are so many ways for Harry to get money - I hope the debt doesn't become a major plot point. If there are downsides to the debt in terms of obligations to Lucius, Harry should just get the money and be done with it.

If the Supreme Mugwump doesn't want Harry to be indebted to Lucius, shouldn't he be able to call in a few favors and have it paid off tomorrow? There's the general blood debt to Harry. The general goodwill to Harry. The desire by others not to have the Boy Who Lived in debt to Malfoy.

There should be enough people in the Wizarding world who'd want to help Harry, or owe him, to pay off the debt immediately.

And then there's all the ways Harry could make money using magic in Muggleland. Get him an internet connection in Hogwarts and play the market using his time turner. The Grangers look like they have rather deep pockets and could provide Harry some decent seed capital, if not pay it off themselves. He did save their daughter from being tortured to death. If nothing else, he could just play the gold-silver arbitrage.

In fact, why not decide to be filthy rich and bankrupt the Old Money like Lucius in the magical world?

The debt really just shouldn't be a problem.

Comment author: David_Gerard 28 March 2012 08:46:44PM 13 points [-]

Get him an internet connection in Hogwarts and play the market using his time turner.

Early '90s. That'd be a JANET connection, which was an academic network. I expect AOL or Compuserve might be possible. We're talking about the mists of prehistory here, i.e. before 1995. Heck, it was even before the National Lottery was operating in the UK (that started 1994). The stock market would be playable, if he had a suitable adult to front for him.

No, how he makes serious money in the muggle world in 1991 Britain may require actual research.

Comment author: shminux 29 March 2012 03:58:33AM 4 points [-]

There was virtually no online trading for individual investors until about 1994. You had to phone your full-service or discount broker and talk to him (or very rarely her) to make a trade.

Comment author: SkyDK 29 March 2012 03:22:10PM *  3 points [-]

Eh no... Harry has Mining++ also known as partial transfiguration. Now EY didn't believe that to be enough so he also equipped Harry with an invisibility cloak a bag AND a suitcase of holding.

If Harry is really pressed for cash and some rules against arbitrage, stock market manipulation, insurance fraud (which he should be able to do to an amount that's not even funny to think about) exist, he still has one glaringly easy way of earning shit tons. He should be able to, as soon as he is allowed to use magic outside school (which IIRC is at 17 which is before his last year at Hogwarts' starts; the 31st of July to be exact) of doing the following:

a) Robin Hood his way through pretty much anything (Invis+teleport is an old classic) b) mine diamonds/gold/other valuable resources by using partial transfiguration, invisibility and if need be Apparation.Some mines in Somalia are just waiting for a wizard to abuse them... c) and of course just straight up gambling.

Sincerely: this stuff doesn't even require a lot of thinking. He could also just do some honest transport business of high quality wares... Teleportation is a whole lot faster than anything else I can think of.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 02:10:53AM 5 points [-]

Poll to see whether the speculation made the chapter reading experience better or worse.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 March 2012 03:40:26AM 24 points [-]

It did make it better. But please don't make people solve a puzzle to get a happy ending. The downside of getting only a sad ending if people fail at that is too high. Not just in terms of how many people will get negative utility from that, but also it will substantially reduce how many people will be willing to recommend the story to others (once it is finished). The potential downside to that is simply too large.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 02:11:10AM 31 points [-]

Vote up if you think that the experience of reading the chapter was better for all the speculation.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2012 02:11:26AM 49 points [-]

Vote up if you think all the speculation got in the way of the chapter itself.

Comment author: Locke 28 March 2012 02:28:20AM 24 points [-]

Five days was too long, IMO. If we only had 24 hours I would have enjoyed it much more.

Comment author: Asymmetric 28 March 2012 04:02:36AM *  9 points [-]

Considering that at least part of the correct solution was found within 24 hours, I think you're right, Locke. It might affect accessibility, though -- I know I would be sad if I logged on only to find that the discussion had closed already.

Having read through the speculation, I even found most of the chapter quite anticlimactic. Recognizing the correct predictions removed all the tension, since MOR's tension relies so much on plotting.

That said, though, reading through the discussion gave me a harmless and very insightful lesson into how predictions work. I learned what makes a prediction probable versus plausible, in a way that not only allows me to understand it, but to think about how I would apply it to my life (I hadn't really internalized that the percents of all possible outcomes have to add to a hundred, even though in hindsight that's fairly obvious. I also learned about the betting-real-money threshold).

All in all, despite getting in the way of the chapter, it was a nice, closed-environment rationalist lesson. Thank you for prompting the discussion, Eliezer!

Comment author: LucasSloan 28 March 2012 04:58:54AM 6 points [-]

Agreed. I initially felt a lot of tension as to the answer, and it didn't fade upon a day or two's speculation, but I did not feel that tension when I read the chapter. I definitely think that a wait over major cliffhangers is indicated, but a long one (even 5 days) cannot sustain the tension.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 28 March 2012 02:11:14PM *  5 points [-]

After considering, I feel it got in the way because people got so much right. It made Harry's dark side much less awesome.

Instead of being, as usual, impressed, I felt more like "why did he even need a mysterious Dark Side for this? And how did he not come up with it in all the time while trying-to-do-the-impossible before the trial?" Which is unfair, but it's not clear fair unbiased thinking that decides for us whether or not we enjoy something...

Comment author: SkyDK 28 March 2012 03:28:17AM 5 points [-]

It was great! It also allowed me to test a couple of thesis of generating solutions. The closest I got was doing something completely different than working directly on the generating of solutions; I can't remember the name of the theory stating that this should be the case, and while having it strengthened is somewhat disheartening it is nevertheless a useful piece of information.

Now if I weren't so bad at shaving, I might even remember to use Occam's razor next time and reduce "Harry marries Hermione" to "Harry makes Hermione part of house Potter". Still much in the ways of the force have I to learn ;)

Only defence of my marriage theory was that I wasn't quite sure that people could just be adopted into houses. Even thought it makes perfect sense, having seen it in action.

I suspect/expect you'll write what power Lucius can legally claim over Harry sometimes soon?

Also I learned to actually look up the experiments you referred to...

All in all thank you for a highly entertaining and inspiring chapter!

Comment author: Alsadius 28 March 2012 02:34:33AM 4 points [-]

I read the speculation, glommed onto the right answer when someone else brought it up, and then got amused by progressively more wacky theories for three days. I don't think the speculation got in the way, per se, but it's sort of anticlimactic for the answer you regard as obvious to be the correct one. The money bit was a nice twist, though.

Comment author: thomblake 28 March 2012 06:01:47PM 3 points [-]

In actuality, I think it made reading the next chapter slightly worse, but made the intervening time much better. And more importantly, I'm pretty sure I learned something about how to solve these sorts of puzzles properly, which is much more relevant.

Comment author: wedrifid 28 March 2012 02:24:32AM 11 points [-]

Where is the vote that "all the speculation was a better than the chapter itself"?

That's no slight on the chapter, mind. The discussion was both entertaining and useful.

Comment author: gwern 28 March 2012 03:07:07AM 6 points [-]

I have to say, I enjoyed the process of coming up with and justifying my 'throw Dumbledore under the bus' theory a lot more than I actually enjoyed the chapter, which wound up looking like a mish-mosh (a debt and messing with Dementors and Hermione joining the House of Potter and foreshadowing)...

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 28 March 2012 06:49:42AM 9 points [-]

I enjoyed the process of coming up with and justifying my 'throw Dumbledore under the bus' theory

That's a very bad mental habit to get into. As Bryan Caplan explains here.

The key difference between a normal utilitarian and a Leninist: When a normal utilitarian concludes that mass murder would maximize social utility, he checks his work! He goes over his calculations with a fine-tooth comb, hoping to discover a way to implement beneficial policy changes without horrific atrocities. The Leninist, in contrast, reasons backwards from the atrocities that emotionally inspire him to the utilitarian argument that morally justifies his atrocities.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 29 March 2012 10:17:45PM 4 points [-]

Honest dilemma: Should Hermione decide to get the memories of casting the Blood-chilling Charm obliviated?

On one hand, one would think that messing even more with Hermione's mind should be a no-no. On the other hand, we're pretty sure it's a false memory, and it seems grossly unfair for her to have to remember attempting to commit a murder that she didn't truly attempt.

Second question: Regardless of what Hermione should do, will she so decide it?

Third question: If she doesn't so decide, will some helpful other person override said choice for her sake and obliviate her anyway?

Comment author: Desrtopa 31 March 2012 01:35:34AM *  5 points [-]

If she does get the memory erased, she's going to be awfully confused when someone else inevitably brings it up again.

Edit: it occurs to me that you probably only meant the memory of performing the charm itself, not the memory of being put on trial for murder. But even if they did that, I suspect she'd imagine something just as bad to fill the space, knowing what was supposed to go in it.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 28 March 2012 07:08:39PM 4 points [-]

One thing I noticed about Harry's language - increasing talk in computer terms. PC, SYSTEM ERROR, Internal Consistency Checker.

His Dark Side is tremendously efficient at information recall and causal inference. Interesting that Quirrell remarked on the value of memory recall to a wizard. I've wondered if the Dark Side was just an interface to a computing system, but it's clear that's not all that it is.

It seems like the Dark Side is two things, an efficient computation engine, and the dark emotions related to Death: the terror and hatred. Why are those linked? Why does a computation and recall engine have to be linked to emotions at all, and if it's going to be emotions, why not positive Mr. Glowy Person feelings?

Comment author: pedanterrific 28 March 2012 07:17:11PM 14 points [-]

PC means Player Character in this instance.