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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6

6 Post author: Unnamed 27 November 2010 08:25AM

Update: Discussion has moved on to a new thread.

After 61 chapters of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and 5 discussion threads with over 500 comments each, HPMOR discussion has graduated from the main page and moved into the Less Wrong discussion section (which seems like a more appropriate location).  You can post all of your insights, speculation, and, well, discussion about Eliezer Yudkowsky's Harry Potter fanfic here.

Previous threads are available under the harry_potter tag on the main page (or: one, two, three, four, five); this and future threads will be found under the discussion section tag (since there is a separate tag system for the discussion section).  See also the author page for (almost) all things HPMOR, and AdeleneDawner's Author's Notes archive for one thing that the author page is missing.

As a reminder, it's useful to indicate at the start of your comment which chapter you are commenting on.  Time passes but your comment stays the same.

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Eliezer Yudkowsky which is not supposed to be publicly available (which includes public statements by Eliezer that have been retracted).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 (541)

Comment author: JamesAndrix 27 November 2010 12:03:20PM 0 points [-]

61

How will harry solve the time travel problem?

The first step will be to use the last hour of the time turner, so he has an extra hour to break this law of magic, or otherwise transmit the message. Having an hour to figure this out should seem easy compared to the rest of the day, but:

The last step should be to also transmit to himself the rest of the plan. But if it were that easy we'd be robbed of listening to harry think. So I suspect there are more constraints here.

Comment author: Yvain 27 November 2010 12:46:35PM 0 points [-]

Presumably Harry or Quirrell has already figured out that Harry will be expected to do this (in fact, this may be why Quirrell told Harry to leave one time-turn in reserve). Here's one plan they could have come up with:

Quirrell removes himself from the action by pretending to be more tired than he is. Harry uses his time-turner to go back to eight o'clock, signal Quirrell, and tell him the password. Quirrell comes into Hogwarts, uses Imperius or Confundus or some kind of false memory charm on Flitwick to make him say he heard the password at three o'clock. Just after nine, Harry and Flitwick come into McGonagall's office, Flitwick says he heard the password at three, and Harry is off the hook.

For a particularly evil flourish, Harry could have polyjuiced into Quirrell and Quirrell into Harry before returning to Mary's Place, and Quirrell can just Confundus Flitwick himself without worrying about sending any signals, while Harry rests at St. Mungo's.

Comment author: FAWS 27 November 2010 01:02:40PM 4 points [-]

For a particularly evil flourish, Harry could have polyjuiced into Quirrell and Quirrell into Harry before returning to Mary's Place, and Quirrell can just Confundus Flitwick himself without worrying about sending any signals, while Harry rests at St. Mungo's.

No way. They must have checked Harry for polyjuice and Harry wouldn't have posed any problem for Snape in subduing.

Comment author: Yvain 27 November 2010 04:08:09PM 3 points [-]

True. And I just realized another, much easier way to handle it would be to make Harry unavailable from 9 PM until midnight for some reason that looked accidental. An attack at 8:30 by someone who looked like one of Voldy's minions that left him unconscious would work nicely.

Comment author: NihilCredo 27 November 2010 04:52:45PM *  8 points [-]

for some reason that looked accidental.

You must mean: for some reason that didn't look accidental at all.

A Death Eater sent to gather Harry's blood would work quite well, since it fits in and supports quite well any model of reality in which the prison break involved Voldemort and not Harry (the two options being complementary in Dumbledore's thinking).

But if an unrelated accident were to happen, all of the Order of the Phoenix would ask themselves "how high are the chances that Harry randomly ends up incapacitated during the exact evening in which he is to be put to a critical test of good behaviour?", answer "pretty damn low" and treat it as a 95% chance of guilt.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 28 November 2010 04:01:38PM 7 points [-]

The time-turner could be (should've been!) tested without Harry's participation.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 28 November 2010 08:38:53PM 2 points [-]

True. McGonagall is planning the test, and she both expects and hopes that Harry is innocent. Also, she's stressed out from the war starting. So she's not thinking particularly clearly about this.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 November 2010 11:15:36AM *  3 points [-]

I didn't think of that.

EDIT: And it wouldn't have worked because the Time-Turner is sealed to a single user alone.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 29 November 2010 11:25:06AM *  1 point [-]

I didn't remember if that rule was in place, assumed that it probably was, but that the Ministry or someone could lift the restriction for the test.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 30 November 2010 02:53:52AM 1 point [-]

That would require informing the Ministry that harry was under suspicion. Even if you made up another reason you suspected him of misusing the time turner that day, if the test failed, more people than Lucius would put it together.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 30 November 2010 05:30:32AM 0 points [-]

Hence the "or someone" clause, which intends Dumbledore or one of his private allies.

Comment author: cousin_it 29 November 2010 11:45:33AM *  1 point [-]

Hah. I thought of that immediately upon reading Ch. 60. McGonagall's decision to leave the whole test up to Harry in Ch. 61 came as a big surprise for me. Didn't write a comment about it then, because such minor flaws are obviously not enough to stop your Harry.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 November 2010 12:11:11PM 5 points [-]

Is there any chance of moving the 5 older threads to the discussion section as well? That would make it easier to find them all by tag and unclutter the main section.

Comment author: nazgulnarsil 27 November 2010 02:41:40PM 8 points [-]

I was bothered by the irrationality preceding the whole prison sequence. Harry thinks of himself as one of the first people able to adequately investigate an entire branch of previously unknown human capabilities. capabilities so powerful that they have the promise of significantly speeding up human progress toward nullifying existential threats and eliminating vast swaths of needless suffering. and then he puts himself in personal danger of death to save one innocent person.

now from a story telling perspective it was great. I even regard it as a worthy trade off since we got some choice anti-democracy bits out of it.

Comment author: DanArmak 27 November 2010 06:14:08PM 2 points [-]

He also has trouble not throwing his life away to destroy some dementors for no lasting gain at all.

Harry is just deeply irrational about these things.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 November 2010 07:33:54PM *  6 points [-]

He also has trouble not throwing his life away to destroy some dementors for no lasting gain at all.

No one is perfect. I suspect a lot of people would have trouble in that situation, even highly rational people.

I know I probably wouldn't, but that's not because I'm being a good utilitarian. Quite the opposite: in fact, I'm too self-centered to do it.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 November 2010 07:54:52PM 7 points [-]

It's like Harry is Harry Potter instead of Eliezer or something!

Comment author: NihilCredo 27 November 2010 10:04:33PM 4 points [-]

Of course he isn't! The beard is all wrong.

Comment author: alethiophile 27 November 2010 10:19:50PM 4 points [-]

This does seem like it would be the proper rationalist manifestation of canon!Harry's 'saving people thing'. He's just more self-aware about it.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 November 2010 03:31:26PM 8 points [-]

Should we maybe add a prominent note to the prior threads that current discussion is here? New users who aren't aware of the discussion sections may have trouble locating the new thread.

Comment author: Unnamed 27 November 2010 09:54:02PM 3 points [-]

Threads 1, 3, and 5 have been updated with a link here.

Comment author: gjm 28 November 2010 02:51:54AM 3 points [-]

4 too, now. Thanks for the reminder.

Comment author: Strange7 27 November 2010 07:09:16PM 3 points [-]

Is Dumbledore obsessed with manipulating dramatic archetypes because he figured out that he's actually living in a work of fiction?

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 28 November 2010 10:46:53AM *  2 points [-]

If so, wouldn't he be less worried about doing things the LotR way? After all, if he's fictional, the author will most likely make it work out regardless. Not that the whole concept really makes much sense - a fictional character can only "realize" precisely what the author wants them to, anyway.

Comment author: Strange7 29 November 2010 07:06:00AM 1 point [-]

In this case, the author wants him to realize as much as a smart-but-not-strictly-rational person possibly could after more than a hundred years of dedicated research into the nature of reality.

Comment author: FAWS 27 November 2010 08:34:36PM *  9 points [-]

62: Huh, somehow (nearly?) everyone who speculated how Harry would get out of that one forgot that they hand out time machines to children so they can attend more classes.

Comment author: Alicorn 27 November 2010 09:11:12PM 4 points [-]

...Which is weird, because unless they want to prohibit students from taking certain pairs of electives, no two classes should take place simultaneously for any given house and year.

Comment author: alethiophile 27 November 2010 09:33:47PM 23 points [-]

That is an oddity. However, note that they don't have computers, and setting up a schedule properly for everyone who's signed up for whatever classes seems like it might well be incredibly difficult without same. It could be that someone saw this and said 'F* it, just give them time machines.' That would certainly fit with the level of sense shown so far in magical Britain.

Comment author: Halceon 27 November 2010 10:22:39PM 2 points [-]

They do, however, have magic. And if there are charms that specifically identify trash to clean, then there must be charms that can organize words on parchment according to a few simple rules.

Comment author: erratio 27 November 2010 11:38:06PM 8 points [-]

The rules are not that simple. School timetabling is NP-hard and even stimulated annealing is unlikely to get it completely correct.

Comment author: Halceon 28 November 2010 12:17:42AM 3 points [-]

Ok, objection noted. My first sentence, however, stands and they still have magic.

Though this might be a matter similar to the clocks - nobody has thought of doing it, so it hasn't been done.

Comment author: erratio 28 November 2010 01:43:20AM 8 points [-]

I should probably have been clearer: the reason classes are often scheduled at the same time is because it's impossible not to. You have some amount of staff, each of whom have to teach some amount of lower level and/or elective classes, and then you have a couple hundred students each of whom pick 5-7 (or whatever it is, I haven't read the books recently) electives in whatever combination most appeals to them. The chances of not having a collision anywhere in the whole timetable are pretty damn low. Non-magical schools deal with collisions by forcing students with unpopular combinations to change one of their options (which is what my school did), or by offering a an extra class during lunch or outside regular school hours (which I've heard of other schools doing)

Comment author: Alicorn 28 November 2010 12:33:06AM 4 points [-]

I've been to college and suffered the frustration of trying to juggle classes that take place at inconvenient times relative to each other. But we don't seem to have the conflicts divulged to the students. Hermione "just signs up for everything", she doesn't say "gosh, it looks like this class and that one conflict, so I'll have to pick one - but I can't choose! Aaah! - Professor McGonagall, isn't there something you could do?!"

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 November 2010 08:16:50AM 24 points [-]

It could be that someone saw this and said 'F* it, just give them time machines.'

I now declare this MoR!canon.

Comment author: erratio 27 November 2010 11:35:16PM 6 points [-]

It's not that weird. School timetabling is hard (probably NP-hard, since the best way to do it by computer is stimulated annealing followed by human tweaks. In reality it's pretty much always done entirely by hand), and it's normal in regular schools for uncommon elective pairs (for example, computing and art) to be scheduled at the same time.

Comment author: DanArmak 27 November 2010 11:29:18PM 9 points [-]

Including Dumbledore and Snape and McGonnagal! Who really should know better. They speculate that Harry was forced to use his Time-Turner for the Dark Lord, but they don't even think to check up on all the other children who have one? For shame.

Comment author: Yvain 28 November 2010 12:24:22AM 8 points [-]

I think the missing insight was that there were students who would be willing to convey messages back in time with no explanation and keep their mouths shut.

Comment author: Sniffnoy 28 November 2010 12:36:03AM *  2 points [-]

I'm definitely a bit confused on how this is expected to work, unless the additional money is for bribing Professor Flitwick (which seems unlikely to work), seeing as how McGonagall explicitly asks whether Harry gave him the message. Then again, if he doesn't know what is being tested for, he might not know that its not being delivered in person is a problem... though he would probably find Margaret's insistence that she was delivering a message from McGonagall on behalf of Harry a bit strange - normally you just specify who the message is from and who it's to; why would he care about an additional messenger? OTOH you would expect this sort of testing to be not so unusual and thus expect Flitwick to know what was the point was.

...yeah, I'm definitely still confused about this. Alternative hypothesis: Harry has failed McGonagall's test, he just hasn't heard about it yet.

EDIT: ...oh. I just realized she would be conveying the message to Harry, not Flitwick. Nevermind. I ignored that possibility. (Assuming he was there at 3 PM...)

Comment author: FAWS 28 November 2010 12:39:10AM 11 points [-]

Harry picked up the message in the empty class room while invisible, decoded it and told Flitwick the message. He was already waiting there because Quirrel had anticipated that he would be subjected to a test of this sort. It's all in the chapter.

Comment author: Document 28 November 2010 10:45:20AM *  3 points [-]

It wasn't til around this post that I realized that Harry's plan was going to work. I was thinking the situation was something like Harry at 9 PM being Time-Turned from 9 PM +t, so that by the laws of time, no piece of information from him could travel back past 3 PM +t. I think I can see now that that wouldn't have made sense, but now I'm back to DanArmak's question.

Comment author: FAWS 28 November 2010 12:42:20AM 1 point [-]

Someone somewhere proposed something that included sneaking in and using Dumbledore's time turner.

Comment author: DaveX 28 November 2010 03:01:33AM 3 points [-]

After reading that Bones and Dumbledore had timeturners, and remembering that if the ministry hands them out to schoolchildren, I thought probably any ministry official rating an iPhone, Blackberry, or Franklin Planner would have one as well. So, certainly the Dark Lord should/could/would have recognized their utility and gathered a few for his side.

Comment author: lsparrish 27 November 2010 08:59:47PM 4 points [-]

62: The ending very nearly made me cry.

Comment author: NihilCredo 27 November 2010 09:59:05PM 2 points [-]

Same here. I also almost hugged my kitten to death.

Comment author: alethiophile 27 November 2010 09:00:58PM 5 points [-]

A question: In canon, Dumbledore is satisfied with letting Harry go home to the Dursleys' in the summers because the magic that Lily imbued Harry with on the night of her death somehow extends to the home of her blood relatives. Shouldn't this effect happen in MoR as well? Assuming so, why is Dumbledore paranoid about allowing Harry to go home? Is it simply that canon!Dumbledore doesn't know about the ritual of the blood of the enemy?

Also, why isn't Hogwarts warded somehow against Portkeys? In canon, Voldemort gets Harry off for the blood of the enemy ritual by tricking him (through Crouch-Jr.!Moody) into touching a Portkey. Is there some ward similar to Azkaban's anti-anti-gravity that requires a password in the Portkey spell, and Crouch-Jr.!Moody was able to get the password? Or is that just a gaping, obvious hole in the defenses? (Actually, the fact that no one ever invaded Hogwarts with a Portkey suggests that there are some wards against Portkeying in.)

Comment author: NihilCredo 27 November 2010 09:57:20PM 5 points [-]

Shouldn't this effect happen in MoR as well?

During the Christmas break, Quirrellmort was able to get as far as the Verres-Evans garden, so if the protection is in place it extends at most to the physical walls of the house, which isn't much - first, because Harry isn't likely to stay secluded (and even if he swears to do so, his parents won't, and while outside of Dumbledore's authority he is susceptible to blackmail), and second, because there are probably sufficiently creative solutions to that little snafu (hijack and crash an airplane on the house? I doubt the Power of Love super-enchantment turned the building into an adamantium-darksteel nuclear bunker).

Comment author: alethiophile 27 November 2010 10:46:37PM 2 points [-]

In general, canon wizards completely neglect Muggle artifacts when making their plans. canon!Voldemort could have done that at any time, enchantment or no. So it might just be a function of this Dumbledore not being stupid. (Of course, in this instance he thinks the pertinent threat is Harry being kidnapped for his blood, not killed, so there's a different threat model there.)

Comment author: DanArmak 27 November 2010 11:31:11PM 2 points [-]

No-one's said the blood has to be taken from his living body, though.

Comment author: alethiophile 28 November 2010 02:36:11AM 2 points [-]

True. What are the constraints on that sort of thing? If it were feasible to do so, would getting a DNA sample and cloning the requisite amount of blood work? (Or whatever you would do to generate blood. It probably involves marrow cells somehow.) Does there have to be some sort of connection between the blood and him? Does he have to be alive, or present, during the ritual?

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 November 2010 03:12:38AM 1 point [-]

You would need Harry's stem cells, presumably from his marrow. Even with those, I doubt that Voldemort has access to the necessary technology, especially in 1991.

Comment author: DanArmak 28 November 2010 10:29:58AM 0 points [-]

Oh, he would do it by magic.

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 November 2010 03:13:49AM 2 points [-]

During the Christmas break, Quirrellmort was able to get as far as the Verres-Evans garden, so if the protection is in place it extends at most to the physical walls of the house, which isn't much

In canon, it certainly doesn't extend to Harry's wandering about on the streets, which is a huge hole in the protection (making it necessary for the OotP to tail him whenever he leaves the house).

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 28 November 2010 10:44:49AM 1 point [-]

Not clear if we still have the love-magic in the MOR-verse, given that Lilly's death went down a little differently (she tried to fight back).

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 30 November 2010 02:27:20AM 1 point [-]

I don't see any reason why that would have changed if not to get rid of the love-magic or at least call it into doubt among the readers. Of course, a blank map does not correspond to a blank territory; it could just be making Lily act more rationally.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 28 November 2010 06:20:38PM 1 point [-]

It's possible that Hogwarts is protected against portkeys in, but not portkeys out. We saw that sort of 1-way wards was possible in Azkaban, and it might be smart to leave a method of getting out that could be used to evacuate somebody/everybody on short notice.

Comment author: DanArmak 28 November 2010 07:54:39PM 4 points [-]

Also, why isn't Hogwarts warded somehow against Portkeys?

When Snape and McGonnagal travel to Mary's, they have to take the Floo to Gringotts first, and remark that this is the fastest way out of Hogwarts. Presumably a Portkey would be faster (since it could take them directly where they wished), so either Dumbledore doesn't have Portkeys prepped for major locations like Diagon Alley (which would be stupid), or MoR!Hogwarts is warded against leaving by portkey.

Comment author: AdShea 30 November 2010 11:59:54PM 0 points [-]

Either that or Portkeys take some difficult preparation and have a limited lifetime in which they will work. Requiring a trip to the target location with a lifetime limit of as little as a day would not stomp over any of their uses in cannon or in MoR up to this point IIRC. This would of course preclude Dumbledore from having Portkeys on hand to go to Diagon Alley.

Comment author: FAWS 01 December 2010 12:05:32AM 3 points [-]

Requiring a trip to the target location with a lifetime limit of as little as a day would not stomp over any of their uses in cannon or in MoR up to this point IIRC.

It would render the king of hearts portkey Harry got from Santa Claus useless.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 27 November 2010 10:14:46PM 8 points [-]

I am very interested in what the effect of magics to nullify "opposite reaction science" will be. Biochemistry cannot work in such a regime, and unless the witch actively puts in something to account for this, you're going to get a lot of dead Aurors and prisoners; although I suppose they'll learn this as they experiment with the jinx. Even if it does work in the sense of not instantly killing everyone in the area of effect, there will be much weirdness; whatever humans expect when they start to consciously think about physics, our reflexes have to be tuned for Newtonian mechanics. I will look forward to seeing how plausibly weird this can get.

On another note, I wonder if we can create a repository of links to other Internet discussion of the fic? I'll start with this thread on Orson Scott Card's discussion site.

Comment author: nazgulnarsil 28 November 2010 11:16:56AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 29 November 2010 01:01:58PM 2 points [-]

Isn't the normal force dependent on/related to this? My mental image is of people falling through the floor because the normal force doesn't automatically balance their weight.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 29 November 2010 07:23:19PM 1 point [-]

I'm not sure but I don't think so. Thinking out loud: We do not fall through floors because the normal force is equal to the force of gravity. However this is not a consequence of Newton's laws as such, it happens because our weight compresses the atoms of the floor so that the repulsive forces between them become stronger, as they are closer together, and thus the topmost ones push harder on the soles of our feet. We can use Newton's laws to analyse this situation, but they don't seem to be immediately causal, as it were.

That said, I could easily be missing something more fundamental that causes both the opposite-reaction effect and the equilibrium I described above. I have zero intuition for how things would work in a physics so non-Newtonian as all that!

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 30 November 2010 02:23:06AM *  0 points [-]

You may well be right. I was just thinking that that's how the opposite reaction manifests. I don't really know which law is more fundamental, they're all the same deep laws anyway.

I have zero intuition for how things would work in a physics so non-Newtonian as all that!

This.

Comment author: thomblake 29 November 2010 07:36:50PM 5 points [-]

My take on this is that it's just an illustration that wizards really don't understand science, and they'll be unsuccessful at implementing their anti-physics charm.

Comment author: AdShea 01 December 2010 12:11:55AM 1 point [-]

Who knows, free Transfiguration works but seems to conserve mass, broomsticks work, but have effects similar to the standard reactionless drive+inertial dampener (and you can make a "reactionless" drive if you can shake masses about fast enough in curved spacetime paper)

Comment author: major 28 November 2010 12:53:18AM 8 points [-]

Ch 62. Holy crap! Dumbledore killed Narcissa in response to the kidnapping and murder of Aberforth?! That doesn't sound right. For one thing, how can he still own the Bird of Good, then?

Comment author: Sniffnoy 28 November 2010 03:16:01AM 0 points [-]

Sorry, where's this?

Comment author: jsalvatier 28 November 2010 03:56:54AM 0 points [-]

D says that the Deatheaters learned not to try to blackmail or attack the families of the Order, and so Harry's family should not be in any danger.

Comment author: Sniffnoy 28 November 2010 05:16:01AM 4 points [-]

OK, this is a highly nonobvious inference; it shouldn't be stated as if it were obvious from the text.

Comment author: major 28 November 2010 04:57:50PM 0 points [-]

My apologies.

I was going to comment on how Ch61 made me realize I lack the ability to predict what others find obvious (specifically why Dumbledore and Snape doesn't see the purpose of the left-behind vial, and, more importantly, do reviewers fail to mention it because it's obvious or because nobody sees the discrepancy), but then I didn't, because I realized probably no one cares.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 28 November 2010 03:19:57AM 3 points [-]

"Not giving into blackmail" sounds like letting Aberforth (etc?) be killed by the Deatheaters rather than giving into demands, but I dunno if it was implied that Narcissa was direct revenge for that, or if that was a separate incident.

Comment author: Document 28 November 2010 07:31:42AM 2 points [-]

The relevant sentence is "The Death Eaters learned, toward the end of the war, not to attack the Order's families.". At least, that's the one that made me say something like "oh crap" out loud.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 28 November 2010 10:07:00AM *  0 points [-]

Yeah, I was thinking "learned how exactly?", which would match with the Narcissa thing, but then the further elaboration took me away from that idea. But it could still well mean that.

Comment author: Document 28 November 2010 10:39:42AM 0 points [-]

I didn't notice an elaboration that qualified it.

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 November 2010 06:23:12AM 1 point [-]

From the same paragraph:

I have taught him that I do not give in to blackmail, and so he will not try.

So that seems to confirm ShardPhoenix's interpretation (which was also mine).

Comment author: Document 29 November 2010 06:50:00AM 1 point [-]

The sentence in between explicitly changes the subject, so that he's referring to Voldemort and not the Death Eaters.

Comment author: DanArmak 28 November 2010 07:57:14PM 3 points [-]

Well, he didn't free the prisoners of Azkaban, so how can he still own the Bird of Good? Clearly there's room for some disagreement between Dumbledore and the Bird without breaking up their relationship.

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 November 2010 02:28:32AM 14 points [-]

62

Has anybody unscrambled Harry's secret message?

(To avoid spoilers, please give your answer in rot13.)

thx!

Comment author: Unnamed 28 November 2010 02:37:47AM 2 points [-]

Write these letters exactly as I say them: S-Y, space, F-V-Y-I-R-E-B-A-G-U-R-G-E-R-R

Comment author: Carinthium 28 November 2010 02:48:54AM 0 points [-]

I tried that and I still don't get it. What is it?

Comment author: FAWS 28 November 2010 03:01:38AM 1 point [-]

Consider what the earlier version of Harry needs in addition to the secret message. (You did click Unnamed's link, right?)

Comment author: Alicorn 28 November 2010 02:54:18AM 9 points [-]

(To avoid spoilers, please give your answer in rot13.)

Har har.

Comment author: nhamann 28 November 2010 02:54:32AM *  0 points [-]

Has anybody unscrambled Harry's secret message?

(To avoid spoilers, please give your answer in rot13.)

I can't tell if you're being clever here or are just suffering from compartmentalization.

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 November 2010 03:15:48AM 0 points [-]

I liked your original message better, where it wasn't clear whether you knew that I was joking or not.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 November 2010 03:16:04AM *  15 points [-]

On a slightly more serious note....

Flitwick: "Yes, Harry, what is the matter?"

Harry: "I have been instructed to deliver a message to you, Professor. "Silver on the tree"."

Flitwick: "I... see. May I ask who sends this message, Harry?

Harry: *pause*

Flitwick:"...the Headmaster? Prof. McGonagall? Prof. Snape?"

Harry's inner Hufflepuff: Next time maybe let's not be so lazy with doing a few extra Caesar shifts, eh?

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 November 2010 03:19:14AM 2 points [-]

Good point! Since Harry's ruse seems to have succeeded, this looks like an oversight on Eliezer's part.

Next time maybe let's not be so lazy with doing a few Caesar shifts, eh?

Which reminds me: While this cypher may be the kid-brother type, it used to be the major-governments type. So for unEnlightened Wizards, maybe it still is enough to fool major governments!

Comment author: [deleted] 28 November 2010 06:00:00AM 4 points [-]

In Order of the Phoenix, Sirius Black seems to know that codes exist, at least. Although he dismisses them as "breakable" and decides to communicate over a floo network connection instead (which makes me wonder if wizards know about one-time pads, and if there are any spells which can break them).

Comment author: AdShea 01 December 2010 12:17:48AM 2 points [-]

Given that the magical community didn't seem to get into mathematics much, and provably strong crypto needs a ton of math, I could see how they never went beyond Caesar Ciphers.

Comment author: FAWS 28 November 2010 04:34:16AM *  2 points [-]

He would have guessed and any timeline where he would have guessed wrongly would have been inconsistent, since he sure as hell would have remembered to include the relevant information then. So either the note would have included that information or he would have guessed correctly and not have bothered to include the information because he remembered guessing correctly. If you are willing to risk paradox to force a resolution you know with absolute certainty to be possible you never actually have to go though with it (compare Harry's first, third and fifth time travel escapades).

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 November 2010 04:58:16AM *  5 points [-]

He would have guessed and any timeline where he would have guessed wrongly would have been inconsistent, since he sure as hell would have remembered to include the relevant information then.

But this is essentially a less systematic variation of the trick he tried with factoring prime numbers. "I'll guess, and since guessing wrong would lead to paradox, it guarantees that I have guessed right" should have ended with another DON'T MESS WITH TIME note.

Besides, it costs him absolutely nothing to add a few more details to the letter. The only reason I can think of for not doing so is if he somehow evaded Flitwick's obvious question without arousing suspicion, (and so found himself needing not to know to replicate the feat).

Comment author: FAWS 28 November 2010 03:02:54PM *  1 point [-]

The difference is that the factoring trick involved several thousand other timelines that had to be resolved while adding any information he lacked to the message involved one. Spontaneously generating timeline stabilizing random data that only requires resolving a low number of timelines to calculate being preferred over having to calculate thousands makes sense, being preferred over a stabilization that requires calculating at most one other timeline does not.

It's not really any different from any other trick that involves him observing the results of his time travel before he carries it out. The difference between a) resolving to use time travel to get himself out of the empty class room and b) just having thought of it and being willing to get himself out of the empty classroom if he observes it actually having happened is that in a) he would do it even if he had not observed the results, there is no other potential behavioral difference between a) and b) for the difference in outcome to correspond to.

Comment author: HonoreDB 28 November 2010 05:21:16AM 6 points [-]

Harry: I don't know if I'm supposed to say.

Remember, Innocent!Harry has no idea what's going on.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 November 2010 08:13:17AM 5 points [-]

I'll fix it.

Comment author: topynate 30 November 2010 01:02:45AM 1 point [-]

It could have been a compressed code - maybe if Minerva had sent the message to Dumbledore there would have been no prefix.

Also, as the Time-Turner goes back in hourly increments, some additional security could have been achieved by making Harry use it in front of Minerva, and monitoring the room in question at 8PM, 7PM etc. It's possible that might cause or be purposely made to cause paradox, though.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 November 2010 06:02:32AM 3 points [-]

I went through the trouble of finding a tool to brute force the Caesar cipher before I realized that of course it would be in rot13. I feel silly now.

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 November 2010 03:21:49AM 1 point [-]

Ch 62

The resolution of Harry's problem is good, except that we should have had Margaret Bulstrode's time turner hinted at. (Maybe it was, I should check, but I don't think that she's appeared before.)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 November 2010 08:19:31AM *  10 points [-]

And as soon as they burst into the Slytherin common room, Tracey Davis took a deep breath and shouted, "Everyone! Harry Potter couldn't cast the Patronus Charm and the Dementor almost ate him and Professor Quirrell saved him but then Potter was all evil until Granger brought him back with a kiss! It's true love for sure!"

It was ordered storytelling of a sort, Daphne supposed.

The news failed to produce the expected reaction. Most of the girls glanced over and then stayed in their couches, or the boys simply kept reading in their chairs.

"Yes," said Pansy sourly, from where she was sitting with Gregory's feet in her lap, leaning back and reading what seemed to be a coloring book, "Millicent already told us."

How -

Comment author: TobyBartels 28 November 2010 08:23:23AM *  8 points [-]

Thank you, I remember that now, although the name didn't stick with me. Excellent!

And you did say (in this chapter) that she used it for gossip, so I should have been reminded, even if I forgot the name.

ETA: Actually, we've got a name mismatch here. Ch 62 says ‘Margaret Bulstrode’ (twice), while your quotation says only ‘Millicent’. The Wikia says that ‘Millicent Bulstrode’ is correct, and also that she's in Harry's year (not a 4th year student as Ch 62 says).

So is Margaret actually Millicent's older sister (not from canon), and if so then why did she let little Millie get the credit for such a nice scoop?

Comment author: nazgulnarsil 28 November 2010 08:23:49AM 4 points [-]

it was mentioned once that Margaret passed on the gossip about harry/hermione's kiss impossibly fast.

Comment author: JamesAndrix 28 November 2010 09:40:58AM 4 points [-]

62

Hypothesis:

Margaret Bulstrode was being watched and/or later questioned, and Dumbledore just put Harry in jail.

Comment author: NihilCredo 28 November 2010 11:11:03PM 0 points [-]

This is actually pretty brilliant.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 29 November 2010 11:09:24AM *  2 points [-]

I think I can go ahead and say, now that Ch. 63 is up, that there are exactly two characters in this fic who will reliably think of that sort of thing, and they are Professor Quirrell and Mad-Eye Moody.

It's only the Idiot Ball if it has been previously established that the character is too intelligent to make a mistake. Not all characters in this fic are supposed to be that intelligent!

Comment author: AdShea 01 December 2010 12:23:07AM 0 points [-]

On the topic of Mad-Eye, as it has been established that Mad-Eye can see everywhere, why doesn't he go pick up Bella while she is weak?

Comment author: FAWS 01 December 2010 02:08:30AM *  3 points [-]

Presumably there still is a limit to how much information his brain can process. Even if he could scan 1000m^2 per second on average (open land faster, forests, cities etc slower) he would need about 5000 years to search all of earth's land surface.

Comment author: AdShea 01 December 2010 05:41:55PM 0 points [-]

True, however assuming the cannon limitation on apparition distance and broomstick speeds, he could search the UK pretty quickly, followed by Europe.

Comment author: ciphergoth 28 November 2010 10:47:56AM 3 points [-]

"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 -

I haven't read the books - is Minerva's incredible ignorance of the Muggle world here canonical?

Comment author: David_Gerard 28 November 2010 02:24:30PM 6 points [-]

Yes, it's used frequently for comic effect (e.g. Arthur Weasley's enthusiasm and lack of clue concerning Muggle artifacts).

Comment deleted 28 November 2010 07:17:25PM [-]
Comment author: ciphergoth 28 November 2010 11:07:17PM *  1 point [-]

Draco was surprised to learn that muggles had been to the moon.

Are you saying that's in a J K Rowling book?

Comment author: jsalvatier 29 November 2010 03:11:28AM 0 points [-]

No, I misread the original comment. BALETED.

Comment author: Nick_Tarleton 29 November 2010 04:46:47AM *  5 points [-]

Why delete? IIRC, half of it was still relevant, and in any case deleting comments with replies forces readers to wonder what more was said.

Comment author: Document 29 November 2010 07:36:58AM 2 points [-]

Random related thought: It'd be nice to have the ability to downvote one's one comments here, like on Reddit.

Comment author: thomblake 29 November 2010 07:49:51PM 1 point [-]

We used to have that ability, but some people apparently disliked the feature so much it had to be removed.

Comment author: gjm 28 November 2010 01:54:32PM 5 points [-]

I just noticed something that surprised me. In chapter 16 of MoR, you'll recall, Harry comes up with a long list of ways to use random things in the classroom for combat. One of them was to ram a wand into someone's eye socket.

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, someone actually does attack someone by ramming a wand into their eye socket. The attacker is Neville Longbottom. (And as it happens he has pretty good reasons for doing it.)

So far as I am aware, no one in canon ever sharpens Hufflepuffs' bones to make weapons.

Comment author: grautry 28 November 2010 04:15:53PM *  6 points [-]

Chapter 62.

Well, that was interesting.

I'm wondering whether the general opinion of Harry as dark is going to change as a result of a freaking phoenix following him around.

Incidentally, I've honestly got mixed feelings about this issue. Dumbledore is completely correct in his "it's not that simple" sentiment but Dementors are evil.

I'm actually wondering whether Wizards in general agree with Azkaban torture or if they just feel that Dementors have to be dealt with somehow. Since everyone 'knows' they're invulnerable, they decided to deal with them by assigning them the role of prison wardens. There's not much else that you can do against an enemy that cannot die except to reach some sort of an agreement with them. In the end, it's probably better if they prey on prisoners then on everyone else. It's monstrous, yes, but does anyone here honestly have a better solution, if you accept the premise that Dementors are indestructible?

If that's the case then Harry keeping his uber-Patronus secret might actually be detrimental to his cause of ridding the world of Dementors.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 28 November 2010 05:30:22PM 8 points [-]

It's monstrous, yes, but does anyone here honestly have a better solution, if you accept the premise that Dementors are indestructible?

Were I involved in the decision-making, and assuming the Dementors are not just indestructible but also unimprisonable, unteleportable-to-the-surface-of-Jupiter, and so forth, I'd like to think I would present the following argument: "Right now, we can't defeat the Dementors, so we do best to negotiate some kind of agreement with them. We ought to continue researching a way to defeat them, and implement it when we find one. If we negotiate an agreement that we find convenient or easy to ignore, our odds of doing those things decrease, so Azkaban is a bad solution. I propose instead that we institute a lottery and feed the selected people to the volcano god -- um, I mean, the Dementors. I further propose that we do so publicly, and that the only exception we allow is for people who are actively and effectively working on solving the Dementor problem."

But I would expect to be voted down.

At which point I would be briefly tempted to "walk away from Omelas," but wouldn't follow through on it.

Comment author: grautry 28 November 2010 06:23:46PM *  2 points [-]

Were I involved in the decision-making, and assuming the Dementors are not just indestructible but also unimprisonable, unteleportable-to-the-surface-of-Jupiter, and so forth

They seem to be un-imprisonable, as far as I see. They can drain magic and decay matter. So that covers.... everything. Eventually, they'd get out of any ward or prison you'd devise for them.

Remember that Harry's hypothesis of Dementors having no structure but what the wizards involved think of them is untested at best. So they might take revenge if they were suddenly faced with wizards trying to get rid of them.

Even if they do not have any such structure, wizards who started teleporting Dementors to Jupiter would probably think that the Dementors would take revenge on them, and so they would. They're, after all, capable of breeding and barring Dementor-detecting magic(which I suppose is possible) it's fairly unlikely that you'll get all of them.

And yes, it's a bad solution, unless you think that threatening scientists with killing random people unless they invent a cure for cancer is a good idea.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 28 November 2010 07:32:55PM 8 points [-]
  • People already are being "randomly" killed by cancer, and will continue to be until we develop a cure. There's no threatening left to do.

  • If I somehow had a choice between N random people dying of cancer every year or N people chosen deliberately by the government dying of cancer every year, and that was the only choice I had (that is, N is fixed), I would choose deliberate choice, with the expectation that we can pick victims who were about to die of other causes anyway and thus minimize the amount of life we destroy. But that reasoning doesn't apply to a fixed number of people being tortured at any given moment.

  • If instead of dying of cancer you pick something more analogous, like living with multiple sclerosis, then yes my reasoning is similar: I reluctantly choose randomness over government-selected victims.

  • As for the logistics of battling Dementors, I'm not sure why that's relevant: I've agreed to assume that there's no known way to neutralize them, either for the reasons you lay out or for other reasons.

Comment author: DanArmak 28 November 2010 08:06:03PM 3 points [-]

They seem to be un-imprisonable, as far as I see. They can drain magic and decay matter. So that covers.... everything. Eventually, they'd get out of any ward or prison you'd devise for them.

Can't you keep them imprisoned in a ring of Patronuses?

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 28 November 2010 08:15:38PM *  5 points [-]

They can drain magic and decay matter. So that covers.... everything. Eventually, they'd get out of any ward or prison you'd devise for them.

You are thinking only of passive static defense, which is an incorrect model that will predict much weaker ability than actual.

Comment author: nazgulnarsil 28 November 2010 08:52:21PM 8 points [-]

it's the same shoddy reasoning we see applied to nuclear waste.
"but the current containment will only last 1000 years!"

okay, reseal it every thousand.

Comment author: Yvain 28 November 2010 09:39:17PM 5 points [-]

"You're not my phoenix now... are you?"

Caw!

"Oh," Harry said, his voice trembling a little, "I'm glad to hear that, Fawkes, because I don't >think - the Headmaster - I don't think he deserves -"

Harry stopped, took a breath.

"I don't think he deserves that, Fawkes, he was trying to do the right thing..."

Caw!

"But you're angry at him and trying to make a point. I understand."

Did Fawkes' "caw!" mean "yes" or "no"?

I interpreted it as meaning "no", then Harry says he's glad because Dumbledore doesn't deserve to have his pet leave him because he was trying to do the right thing, but Fawkes is angry and wants to show Dumbledore how mad he is by giving him the cold shoulder for a short while.

One of the reviewers interpreted the caw as "yes', then Harry says he's glad because he doesn't think Dumbledore deserves a phoenix, then he takes a breath and sort of changes his mind and briefly applies principle of charity to Dumbledore, but understands that Fawkes is trying to make a point by leaving him.

Which way is intended?

Comment author: Manfred 28 November 2010 09:58:12PM 8 points [-]

I believe we should turn this over to RoosterTeeth.

"Fawkes, does caw mean yes?"

Caw!

"Holy shit! He just said caw means yes. I speak phoenix!"

"Yeah, unless caw means no. In which case, he just said no, caw does not mean yes."

"What, no way. Hey Fawkes, am I right?"

Caw!

"Hah, see?"

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 November 2010 10:08:38PM 1 point [-]

I think the first is what is intended. Fawkes is leaving temporarily to make a point.

Comment author: FAWS 29 November 2010 02:26:30AM 0 points [-]

It must be the first because there seems to be no reason for Eliezer to have induced this particular bit of ambiguity in this particular place deliberately, and there is no way he could possibly have missed that cutting off a sentence and then uttering a sentence that starts with a repetition of the cut off sentence might be interpreted as completing the cut off sentence. On the other hand it's perfectly plausible that he might have overlooked the other possible reading.

Comment author: Raemon 28 November 2010 11:35:48PM 11 points [-]

Warning, big swath of text coming through.

I've recently been rereading the story from the beginning. By now the whole thing has a bit of a halo effect and judging things without bias is getting tricky. So kudos on accomplishing that... but there are a few issues that I think harm the piece overall. They didn't hurt my enjoyment of it, but they end up limiting it to a smaller audience. There's a lot of smart people who would love this fic if there weren't certain things that turned them off to it.

The main problem is that Harry too absurdly intelligent to believable at first glance. In the first few chapters people tend to assume that the "primary change" is simply that Petunia married someone different, which isn't enough to justify him not only being saner but being genuinely smarter than the original Harry was. My sister was particularly annoyed by this. I'm not sure how much of that had do with her reading it before you updated the intro-text to say "multiple points of departure." But by now she's internalized Harry as a creepily overintelligent jerk and I can't get her to give it a second chance, despite the clues you've dropped more recently about why he is the way he is. And while you've put a lot of effort into showing that Harry is not always right (and is in fact, often grossly wrong), the bleed between your own opinions and writing style and Harry's opinions is often difficult to distinguish.

Something about the early chapters makes it particularly hard to tell, and if I had to pick the single biggest issue, it would be your portrayal of Dumbledore. I know that you're writing from Harry's perspective, and Harry's perspective is flawed. I suspect you also want us to keep guessing about what precise changes you've made to Dumbledore's character. Is he insane? Why/did he kill Narcissa? Etc. I'm sure there's other plot elements that you're foreshadowing that we haven't picked up on yet. But even when I try to compensate for that... the character simply reads... off. Too weird, too dim, too much of a different character than the one we remember. My suspicion is that Dumbledore's personality IS pretty different from your own, so writing him convincingly is simply difficult. If that's true, well, fair enough.

I understand what you were trying to do in chapter 39, but he really comes across as a strawman. Not because his reasons for deathism are poorly thought out (it's fine for him to either have undisclosed information or just lack that kind of rationality) but because he seems to fail to understand how angry/disappointed Harry is in him. Dumbledore should NOT be bad at that kind of empathizing, and that's what makes him look genuinely stupid instead of simply having a different viewpoint. If he's only pretending to be bad at understanding Harry.... eh, I'll withhold judgment in case you have an awesome resolution to that scene planned out for later, but right now it doesn't read as clever foreshadowing to me, it just reads as a character who's written oddly.

I think chapter 39 would work a lot better, though, if it wasn't set up by chapter 17. This is our main introduction to Dumbledore, and it's just... too weird. Too insane in ways that Dumbledore was not traditionally insane, too dim sounding when Harry starts talking about locating Hypothesis. (I confess I'm biased a bit simply because the "detector box" thought experiment has never been compelling for me. Yes, it makes sense, but it doesn't register at all on an emotional level, so taking a few paragraphs to describe it just feels weird and offputting).

I'm not a skilled enough writer to do it better, especially without knowing all of your longterm goals for the story. But I think chapter 17 is something you should revisit at some point. If there's a way to accomplish the same goals without feeling so different from Canon!Dumbledore, and without making Harry look genuinely smarter, then the character would feel more real and you'd probably hold on to a wider audience.

By chapter 62, it's become clear that this IS the Dumbledore we know and love, just a little more realistic when it comes to fighting a war and perhaps a tad more whimsical. But the audience has to wait a long time to find that out, and I can't see any reason that we had to wait for that. I appreciate the way you force us to think "hmm... DO we really trust this guy in this alternate universe?" but the overall way you go about it just feels... off.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 28 November 2010 11:43:44PM 5 points [-]

Is [Dumbledore] insane?

Ch. 61: "And there is no one else in the world who would accidentally overestimate my wit, and leave me a message I cannot understand at all."

Why/did he kill Narcissa?

Ch. 62: "The Death Eaters learned, toward the end of the war, not to attack the Order's families."

Comment author: Raemon 28 November 2010 11:45:36PM 4 points [-]

I didn't say there weren't good clues. Just that those clues come too late to help with the sort of person likely to give up around chapter 20.

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 29 November 2010 12:17:28AM 2 points [-]

Just answering the questions.

Comment author: Manfred 30 November 2010 02:33:21AM 0 points [-]

Dumbledore plays a deep game. He's not "the Dumbledore we know and love" in many, many ways, and perhaps that big change is the largest cause of the issues.

Comment author: Raemon 30 November 2010 04:42:46AM 6 points [-]

First, I know Eliezer's deliberately keeping Dumbledore mysterious and forcing us to question what we think we know about him and how we think we know it. But I think, in the end, he is the same character with the same core virtues that we originally loved. The difference is that he is now in a world where he could not be content "merely" being Gandalf, because in this new universe, Gandalf would have lost. Dumbledore in the original universe didn't make the hard, cold decisions this Dumbledore does, not because he was incapable of it, because that universe didn't require it of him.

This universe does, and because he DOES share the same core virtues it breaks his heart, which is what finally sold me on his character in chapter 62 (and even in chapter 39, when I went back and reread it).

I may turn out to be wrong, but I would be disappointed if that is the case.

Comment author: alethiophile 29 November 2010 06:00:06AM 2 points [-]

Dumbledore refers to Moody's eye as the Eye of Vance, and says that 'if the Eye of Vance does not see a thing, it does not exist' (or some such). Does this mean that Eliezer has decided to go with the 'more specific artifact' reading of his dichotomy in an earlier AN? (Discussing the power of the Cloak, and how in canon Moody's eye can see through it.)

Also, is it significant that one of the Aurors in the response team is named Emmeline Vance?

Comment author: TobyBartels 29 November 2010 06:37:54AM 2 points [-]

The Eye of Vance! (not serious)

Comment author: Randaly 29 November 2010 07:19:40AM *  5 points [-]

I don't think the name's significant- it's taken from canon, and the Eye of Vance is a shoutout to Jack Vance's The Eyes of the Overworld.

Comment author: Aharon 29 November 2010 05:59:38PM 3 points [-]

I thought it was a reference to the D&D Eye of Vecna, especially after the left leg of Vance was mentioned (Vecna is a powerful D&D villain who left behind an eye and a hand, and if - as expected - somebody tries to get both and succeeds, something bad happens, although I don't remember what exactly).

Comment author: JoshuaZ 29 November 2010 06:49:48PM 4 points [-]

Yes, that's what it is referencing, but there's another level of reference, "Vecna" was an anagram of "Vance" the last name of writer "Jack Vance" whose magic system influenced D&D magic. So Eliezer has used the unanagrammed version.

Comment author: alethiophile 30 November 2010 04:04:30AM 3 points [-]

Question answered by Chapter 63. If Eliezer can work a connection between the Eye of Vance and Emmeline Vance (that's more interesting than 'old ancestor made it'), it would be awesome.

Comment author: Document 29 November 2010 07:31:03AM 0 points [-]

Chapter 63 is up.

Comment author: NihilCredo 29 November 2010 09:13:16AM 12 points [-]

Ch. 63, writing as I read:

I wonder what's the Death Eaters' opinion of phoenixes. If they agree that they're a force for good, seeing one of them in Dumbledore's retinue should make them ask themselves a few questions (a generic problem whenever you put a public, physical moral compass in any world, really - it becomes much harder for the villains to delude themselves into thinking they're heroes). Perhaps they think they're just creepy, winged endorphine peddlers.

Cool that Hogwarts has invented onion routing seven years in advance. Although I don't think it's a big improvement in security when the three messengers are so close to each other, and so much more likely to (occasionally) conspire to piece together the connection.

For the couple of seconds I considered Harry's guess on LL, I brightened up considerably. I dearly hope you don't plan for the fic to finish before you get a chance to write Methods!Luna.

Lesath... you know, I always hate pathetic characters in fiction, they make me cringe whenever they show up and I smile when they disappear from the story, but Lesath made me realise that MoR didn't have a truly pathetic character, Neville having "leveled up" extremely quickly, and I got the gut feeling that that was a missing piece that just got fixed.

Amelia didn't wonder how a ten-years-in-Azkaban Bellatrix could have not just killed, but obliterated the same man who had just defeated Bahry? Not that there aren't answers (say, a Geas-type spell, with a lethal payload to be triggered by Bellatrix).

Glad to see that Alastor is as badass as expected in a powered-up story like this. The one-shots where Moody raised Harry were one of the few fics on your "Recommended" page that I enjoyed, and I believe I see the influence at work here.

Voldie on LSD would make a good omake. Rigorously to be written while crunk.

Verdandi, or rather Verðandi, is one of the Norns, a sort of Norse version of the Greek Moirae and Roman Parcae. I don't believe that's the right reference, though?

And the Bahl reference I didn't get at all, but I haven't read much sci-fi or fantasy.

Hey, remember all the flak you took when Harry agreed off-screen to the nutty plan? If it encouraged you to spend more effort on this beautifully human piece of HJPEV self-reflection, I'll be sure to bring the torches and pitchforks next time.

The paragraph where Harry veers into evolutionary psychology reads like a perfect example of the kind of common, self-indulgent evolutionary psychology that I think gives a bad name to meaningful evolutionary psychology.

My instant thought on the "and a deck of playing cards": If that's a Deck of Many Things, Santa Claus is certifiably insane and possibly Dumbledore.

I wonder who will be the one to break the King of Hearts (that someone will is almost a given). Most likely not Harry. It could make an interesting contest.

Author's Notes: What, no mention of Three Worlds Collide? Also, Twitter is worse than television.

Well done. Enjoy your hiatus, you've deserved it - this conclusion to Act I was far more thorough than I expected.

Comment author: Kingreaper 29 November 2010 08:15:36PM 6 points [-]

I wonder what's the Death Eaters' opinion of phoenixes. If they agree that they're a force for good, seeing one of them in Dumbledore's retinue should make them ask themselves a few questions (a generic problem whenever you put a public, physical moral compass in any world, really - it becomes much harder for the villains to delude themselves into thinking they're heroes). Perhaps they think they're just creepy, winged endorphine peddlers.

Phoenixes encourage you to go out, and throw yourself full-strength against a problem, regardless of whether you can solve the problem, regardless of your chance of death.

To a slytherin, this is simply irrational. Gryffindor is brave, AKA foolhardy. Slytherin is devious AKA rational. The gryffindor method is the phoenix method: ignore the dangers that stand in the way of your goal.

Comment author: CronoDAS 30 November 2010 11:32:30PM 5 points [-]

Verdandi, or rather Verðandi, is one of the Norns, a sort of Norse version of the Greek Moirae and Roman Parcae. I don't believe that's the right reference, though?

"Verdandi" is Belldandy.

And "Bahl's Stupefaction" is the Idiot Ball.

Comment author: Document 29 November 2010 10:20:46AM 3 points [-]

63:

In the conversation with Hermione at the chapter's end, is Harry breaking his promise to Quirrell to "speak...in exactly the fashion you would speak if you knew nothing"?

Comment author: FAWS 29 November 2010 10:39:54AM 2 points [-]

Nothing about the break-in. He can talk about other matters, presumably including Quirrel's answer to his "Why am I not like other children", which did make him trust Quirrel less and is a plausible topic of conversation either way.

Comment author: FAWS 29 November 2010 10:48:45AM 1 point [-]

63: I suppose we should take Moody's not finding Voldemort's wand as evidence that their suspicion about moving the graveyard is correct, but they are wrong on not telling even Bellatrix? Or did Dumbledore already find the wand years earlier?

Comment author: Sniffnoy 29 November 2010 11:27:29AM 1 point [-]

Note that the wand was under the tombstone to the right of his father's grave, not under his father's grave itself. Unless they had reason to think he had hidden something in the graveyard, it's not obvious they would have looked there.

Actually, this is evidence against Moody's theory that the graveyard was moved, since there has to be a tombstone to the right of the grave. Moody could still be correct, however, if Voldemort already recovered the wand earlier, and moved the graveyard after doing so.

Comment author: FAWS 29 November 2010 06:57:51PM *  0 points [-]

I didn't think a bit of stone and dirt would block the Eye of Vance when the true cloak of invisibility doesn't, nor the users own head. Well, I guess it might be possible to hide from the Eye of Vance by staying out of direct line of sight after all.

Comment author: HonoreDB 29 November 2010 07:43:46PM 2 points [-]

Maybe it's common enough to bury a wizard with his own wand that Moody doesn't think twice about seeing a wand in a graveyard.

What bothers me is that it seems foolish to have Bellatrix waiting in the decoy graveyard on the night the ritual is to be performed. What's the point of creating a fake location for your ritual's ingredients, then storing an actual ingredient there?

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 08:58:20PM 3 points [-]

Bellatrix could have waited at the original location. She could still call it a "graveyard" even with the graves moved away.

Comment author: TobyBartels 01 December 2010 08:54:41AM 2 points [-]

If stone and dirt don't count, then everything is in direct line of sight of the Eye of Vance.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 08:58:54PM 0 points [-]

Voldemort was unlikely to be able to move the graveyard after losing his body - if that happened the same way as in canon.

Comment author: Tesseract 29 November 2010 12:07:07PM 1 point [-]

From 63:

The 7.5% of the glass that was full, which proved that people really did care about water, even if that force of caring within themselves was too often defeated. If people truly didn't care, the glass would have been truly empty. If everyone had been like You-Know-Who inside, secretly cleverly selfish, there would have been no resisters to the Holocaust at all.

This passage bothers me because it implies that people have 'true' dispositions sometimes masked by external factors, rather than being a result of their brain activity at any given time. In light of what we know about neuropsychology, it doesn't make sense to say that there's a consistent subconscious 'force' of caring which battles the forces of selfishness in an effort to be felt -- people either care or not depending on which neurons fire.

It seems curiously non-scientific to talk about people as though they had true but concealed feelings conflicting beneath the surface, rather than just having feelings.

Comment author: Nisan 30 November 2010 04:22:24PM *  2 points [-]

Really? There is a scientific question here: Are some people more likely to balk in the Milgram experiment than others? I don't know how one would test this; you can't just repeat the experiment on the same subjects, because their behavior would be affected by the memory of the previous trials.

But it is a valid question. How much of that 7.5% is due to individual variance of behavior, and how much is due to variance over the population?

Comment author: Tesseract 30 November 2010 08:51:45PM *  2 points [-]

Maybe I didn't express it well, but I'm not claiming that some people aren't intrinsically more compassionate (or selfish, or obedient, or any other personality trait) than others, and thus more likely to balk. That I agree with.

What I'm objecting to is that MoR seems to treat feelings as if they were always there and battling to be felt, like the id and superego vying over the conscious mind -- as if people could be compassionate 'underneath' the influence of selfishness. But the brain doesn't work that way: people are compassionate or selfish at any given moment, depending on how their brain fires. One feeling is no more 'real' than another.

To say someone is 'compassionate' is to say that they will feel/act compassionately more often than an average person, because their brain is wired in a way that causes them to experience more compassion. It's a description of behavior, not something that people can be 'inside'.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 04:00:11PM *  14 points [-]

Harry missed an opportunity to do good with Lesath. He should have given him orders that would make him behave in a way that might make him happier. Like:

"Acquire friends. Acquire power. Acquire happiness. Try to publicly join a faction, if any will have you, so that you aren't a loner associated with the one Death Eater that even other Death Eaters repudiate, but are instead associated with respectable Slytherins. If Slytherins won't have you because you're worthless as an ally, try moving to Hufflepuff. Note that Neville was willing to defend you from bullies; make him and others like him like you. Publicly repudiate your mother if plausible."

And even more importantly:

"Do not ever try to act on my, the Dark Lord Harry's, behalf, or to help me, without explicit orders from me. Not if you're sure you'd be helping me greatly. Not if you're sure I'd approve afterwards. Not if you're among Death Eaters. Not even if you come face-to-face with your mother. Not if you think I ordered it but you can't be sure because I wasn't talking literally. Not if you get mailed orders from me and you know they're from me because they appear under your pillow while you're sleeping and everybody knows only I can do the impossible. Not ever. If I want you to do something, you'll know."

As it is, my story-pattern-matching is yelling that Harry is going to be exposed by Lesath trying to help him.

Comment author: HonoreDB 29 November 2010 04:36:48PM *  2 points [-]

Harry missed an opportunity to do good with Lesath.

Agreed. I think if Harry had had proper prep time (which he would have if he hadn't assumed it was a different L.L.) he would most likely have done this. Unless Hermione has succeeded in shaming him into stopping.

As it is, my story-pattern-matching is yelling that Harry is going to be exposed by Lesath trying to help him.

There is a strong similarity to a certain storyline in Death Note, isn't there? But unlike Mikami, Lesath doesn't have the power to expose Harry other than by coincidence, because Harry hasn't trusted him with any information.

There's certainly a danger of Lesath ridding him of a meddlesome priest, or jumping in front of an Avada Kedavra.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 08:19:18PM 0 points [-]

Unless Hermione has succeeded in shaming him into stopping.

I didn't understand then, and I don't understand now. Why was what Harry did wrong (according to Hermione)? And how is it similar to my proposal?

Comment author: HonoreDB 29 November 2010 08:52:28PM 5 points [-]

He's heavy-handedly manipulating someone for their own good, in a way that increases his own power and makes him feel superior. He's treating someone who should be a peer like a trainable dog.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 10:06:47PM 3 points [-]

If you accept that it's for their own good - and if it does result in their own good - then shouldn't that outweigh the heavy-handedness? But Hermione told him not to do that kind of thing at all, instead of "be less heavy-handed next time".

As for making him feel superior? Harry already feels vastly superior to someone like Lesath, as well as mostly everyone else apart from Hermione. I don't think giving him a few 'orders for his own good' would change anything there.

And he can't treat Lesath like a peer, for the simple reason that Lesath wouldn't accept it. If Lesath insists that Harry is his Lord, and Harry can't change his mind about it (he tried!), why shouldn't Harry use it for Lesath's own good?

Comment author: HonoreDB 29 November 2010 10:45:06PM *  6 points [-]

Come to think of it, we may well get to see this exchange. But since we won't see it for a while, I'll try to channel it:

"Harry, taking people's interests into account--being a good guy--requires thinking of them as people. You care a lot about a human, less about a dog, and not at all about a paperclip, right?"

"Right."

"So when you don't treat a human like a human--"

"Hold on. You're equivocating. To 'treat a human like' their desires are as important to my utility function as my own is an absolute good. To 'treat a human like' convention dictates a human should be treated is a contingent good--it only makes sense when that helps them achieve their desires."

"No, they're not the same thing, Harry. But they're closely linked in your head. You have a cluster of concepts, instincts, and behaviors to do with humans, and each bit reinforces each other bit. You can plainly see how it works: if you spend a year pretending that a toy is a person, you'll become incredibly reluctant to take it apart for spare parts. Conversely, if you start acting like people are your toys..."

"Now you're dehumanizing me a bit, Hermione. If I go into an interaction with Padma planning to help her, I'm going to end up doing my best to help her. Because I'm a sentient being who is aware of his own intentions, not a finite state machine that can get accidentally stuck in the mode for dealing with paperclips."

"Well, Harry, I guess you have more faith in yourself than I do. I think you want your utility function to be different from what it is. I think that, like a lot of people, you're more selfish than you want to be."

"That's incoherent."

"Exactly. You're not going to behave in a logically coherent way. It's okay to aspire to do so, I guess, but please realize that right now, you have to be sure not to--"

"Accidentally train myself to be a bad dog rather than a good dog?"

"Not to drift into Evil while trying to be Good. That's the human condition."

Comment author: Alicorn 29 November 2010 10:55:16PM 4 points [-]

I like this. Let us know if you ever write fiction of your own, please :)

Comment author: HonoreDB 30 November 2010 04:14:15AM 1 point [-]

Thanks!

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 29 November 2010 11:34:17PM 4 points [-]

"To 'treat a human like' convention dictates a human should be treated is a contingent good--it only makes sense when that helps them achieve their desires"

The obvious thing this seems to miss is that most people do desire to be treated like people -- at the very least as equals, and with dignity and respect.

So treating them otherwise is by itself of negative value -- not just contingent to other consequences.

Comment author: HonoreDB 30 November 2010 04:27:44AM 2 points [-]

I basically agree, although in my mind it doesn't make Harry's line technically incorrect. It's not always another's desire to be treated as an equal, so in that sense it's not an absolute good to treat people as one. Whereas it's always another's desire to have her desires fulfilled.

Comment author: TobyBartels 01 December 2010 09:01:08AM 0 points [-]

most people do desire to be treated like people -- at the very least as equals, and with dignity and respect

Since Lesath is an exception (at least when treated by Harry), that should mean that Hermione's objection doesn't apply in this case, and Harry should realise as much.

Comment author: HonoreDB 01 December 2010 04:52:29PM 1 point [-]

I originally had written that below, but actually I disagree. Lesath doesn't abase himself because he enjoys it! He does so because that's how you get Dark Lords to do what you want. It's reasonable to assume that he'd prefer being treated as an equal--he just has higher priorities than trying to make that happen.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 08:20:31PM *  2 points [-]

There's certainly a danger of Lesath ridding him of a meddlesome priest, or jumping in front of an Avada Kedavra.

Exactly. He might compromise Harry by doing some stupid and/or evil thing and then, when found out, telling everyone he did it for Dark Lord Harry. Like ridding him of a meddlesome Hermione by pushing her down the stairs, since Draco told all Slytherin that Harry and Hermione are enemies.

Imagine Lesath trying to be to Harry what his mother was to Voldermort. Only even less intelligently.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 November 2010 05:26:24PM 4 points [-]

"Acquire friends. Acquire power. Acquire happiness. Try to publicly join a faction, if any will have you, so that you aren't a loner associated with the one Death Eater that even other Death Eaters repudiate, but are instead associated with respectable Slytherins. If Slytherins won't have you because you're worthless as an ally, try moving to Hufflepuff. Note that Neville was willing to defend you from bullies; make him and others like him like you. Publicly repudiate your mother if plausible."

I like this idea, except I'd leave out the last bit if it were me. You've already left yourself some wiggle room with the "if plausible," so you probably wouldn't get Lesath into much trouble that way, but given what we've seen of him fanatic & public loyalty seems to be a big part of his nature. It's probably the only reason he's in Slytherin (loyalty to the idea of Slytherin, I mean--I bet he had to beg the Sorting Hat, as otherwise he seems completely unsuited to the House). It looks like he's formed his identity around that loyalty, and it might do a number on his head if he had to suddenly act in an inconsistent manner.

That capacity for loyalty would make him a great minion though. Harry already caught himself wishing for a Bella of his own, and now! Here's her son, pledging his life...

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 08:28:12PM 2 points [-]

It looks like he's formed his identity around that loyalty, and it might do a number on his head if he had to suddenly act in an inconsistent manner.

A fourth-year Slytherin who doesn't understand the concept of pretending in public isn't worth feeding to a pet snake. He doesn't have to speak against his mother so much as to keep quiet and find a way to avoid bullies.

But what you say is true. All the more reason he should associate with Hufflepuffs - they can appreciate loyalty.

Comment author: Mercy 29 November 2010 11:10:39PM 5 points [-]

Those would all be excellent ideas if Lesath was a perfect Occulemens. As it is, as far as Harry knows Snape may very well be mind-reading as a matter of routine. He's probably get away with claiming to be playing along for the sake of manipulating Lesath, but given the circumstances cannot be blamed for playing it safe.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 11:16:34PM 5 points [-]

Harry should certainly say to Lesath: "I am not your Lord and I did not free your mother from Azkaban, but since you wrongly believe that I am and did, here are my orders for you, which you will notice benefit you and not me."

Snape was the one who originally introduced Harry to Lesath with the intention of helping Lesath (at least, he didn't mind that Harry helped him). He wouldn't be surprised if Harry reacted this way.

Comment author: gwern 29 November 2010 04:26:08PM *  30 points [-]

But "pessimistic" wasn't the correct word to describe Professor Quirrell's problem - if a problem it truly was, and not the superior wisdom of experience. But to Harry it looked like Professor Quirrell was constantly interpreting everything in the worst possible light. If you handed Professor Quirrell a glass that was 90% full, he'd tell you that the 10% empty part proved that no one really cared about water.

Well. That settles it for me - Quirrel is based off Robin Hanson.

EDIT: It saddens me a little that this is my most-upvoted comment ever.

Comment author: WrongBot 29 November 2010 07:50:08PM 4 points [-]

I've been getting this impression, too; there have been several occasions where Quirrell has advocated something very close to Hanson's signaling theory of human behavior.

Comment author: sanyasi 30 November 2010 05:17:53AM 7 points [-]

And Mad Eye is Bruce Schneier.

Comment author: gwern 30 November 2010 04:38:39PM 2 points [-]

Is he really? I've read Schneier for years and I don't get any vibes off Moody. For example, Moody espouses all sorts of complicated theories which are the sort of 'movie plots' that Schneier derides.

If anyone, I think Mad Eye is James Jesus Angleton, or possibly Moody is an 'anti-Schneier'. (Personally, I think Eliezer is simply exaggerating Moody in the spirit of I'll-show-you-true-constant-vigilance!)

Comment author: AdShea 01 December 2010 01:04:57AM 3 points [-]

Well, what would Schiner be like with the Eye of Vance? When you can easily protect yourself from non-movie-plot problems through magic coupled with amazing situational awareness, the movie-plot problems get to be what's left (not to mention that the wizarding world seems to breed movie-plot villians).

Comment author: TheOtherDave 29 November 2010 08:09:16PM 7 points [-]

Thinking about ch63 (which is among my favorite chapters to read so far)...

I am, of course, curious to see what the implications are of Harry's formally declaring opposition to Death.

But more than that, I am curious about the implications of his epistemology.

Ultimately Harry breaks his connection to Quirrell because he realizes Quirrell can maintain a surface appearance that is radically distinct from his deep structure, and consequently Harry can't know what Quirrell "truly" is. As distinct from, say, Hermione or Draco, who (Harry believes) can be read on the surface.

That seems to suggest that Harry has entirely given up on the idea of judging people by what they do... at least, when it comes to Quirrell.

Well, and Hermione. After all, this is precisely Harry's criticism of Fawkes: Fawkes only judges her based on what she has done, rather than on "the notion of there being something that a person is".

Now, in the real world, I know a lot of people who have more or less this attitude; who judge people based on their apprehension of some kind of core self, and believe that core is what really matters, and that judgments based on people's actions are inadequate by comparison. But those people don't describe themselves as rationalists. Indeed, most of them talk about that "core self" in language that soi-disant rationalists dismiss out of hand. Presumably Harry isn't going that route.

I will be interested to see what route he goes instead.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 10:01:41PM 2 points [-]

I am, of course, curious to see what the implications are of Harry's formally declaring opposition to Death.

Meh. He declares war on Azkaban, not on Death. I suppose it could be read (very) broadly to mean he declares war on severe torture.

If only he'd shut up and calculate, he'd realize that to prevent the largest amount of suffering he should dedicate his life to researching magical means of granting immortality to everyone, like the Philosopher's Stone.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 29 November 2010 10:06:27PM 1 point [-]

It seems pretty clear that Harry's opposition to Azkaban is because of the Dementors. He isn't opposed to prisons in general, and all of his emotive thinking about Azkaban has centered on the Dementors.

And we've established that the Dementors are, in the HP:MORverse, instances of Death. I'll admit that I haven't the foggiest clue what that actually means, but that's kind of true of pretty much all magic; I accept it on narrative grounds.

So I stand by the original statement.

Comment author: DanArmak 29 November 2010 10:32:35PM 6 points [-]

Harry is opposed to people feeding other people to Dementors, slowly, over many years, until they die. If Dementors were just dangerous evil creatures roaming out there and occasionally killing unlucky people who didn't Apparate away in time - like trolls, or dragons - Harry wouldn't care much about them and their association with Death.

This is precisely what I'm saying: he previously swore to end death (not just Dementors!) but now he's swearing to end Azkaban - a much smaller goal. In fact it's insignificant in comparison. Let's hope it doesn't get exclusive priority on Harry's time.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 29 November 2010 11:13:24PM 3 points [-]

Agreed that taking out the Dementors is a relatively narrow goal compared to other goals he might have adopted instead. (Like immortality, or unlimited Fun, or whatever.) He's only human: it may take him another year or two to completely reshape the universe.

The fact remains that he just made a commitment to oppose Death, in a universe where Death really does seem to be something other than just death, and (unlike his previous oaths and determinations) this declaration seems to have had some implications in terms of the foreseeable future.

Comment author: hairyfigment 30 November 2010 08:59:51PM 0 points [-]

If Dementors were just dangerous evil creatures roaming out there and occasionally killing unlucky people who didn't Apparate away in time - like trolls, or dragons - Harry wouldn't care much about them and their association with Death.

"Humanism" suggests he'd technically want to eliminate them anyway, and as it turns out this desire seems wise. Dementors can breed (asexually) if whatever makes decisions for them decides to prepare for more victims. It happened in canon. In the absence of any Patronus 2.0 this seems like an existential risk or a risk of an unpleasant future for humanity, depending on how the Dementor decision maker works. And again, given the existence of Dolores Umbridge with her canon use of Dementors, I see no reason to believe that every present and future Ministry official will refrain from offering them Muggles. Nor does it seem wise to wait until Dementors start multiplying before reducing their numbers.

Now, Harry doesn't know all this, but "hole in the world" sure sounds like a possible threat to humanity's existence. He must believe in a non-zero risk from Azkaban. Logically Harry should ask if this risk exceeds the Star Goat or Anti-Pascal's probability. (Example: the chance of cryonics working, in any particular case, seems to far exceed the Star Goat probability of it interfering with or preventing an afterlife.) And neither his pessimistic mentor nor his conditionally pro-death mentor seems to consider the chance of ending humanity through killing Dementors worth mentioning.

Comment author: [deleted] 02 December 2010 12:11:21AM 6 points [-]

This is precisely what I'm saying: he previously swore to end death (not just Dementors!) but now he's swearing to end Azkaban - a much smaller goal. In fact it's insignificant in comparison.

I don't think the important thing in Ch. 63 is that Harry changed his goals (you're right, he didn't really) but that he changed the methods he's willing to consider. The long-term argument (since chapter 35) between Harry and Quirrell has been about the utility of democracy. When Harry declared himself with the 3 and against the 47, he is acknowledging (at least the way I read it) a willingness to become a benevolent dictator if necessary.

Comment author: David_Allen 29 November 2010 11:22:30PM 7 points [-]

If only he'd shut up and calculate, he'd realize that to prevent the largest amount of suffering he should dedicate his life to researching magical means of granting immortality to everyone, like the Philosopher's Stone.

Granting immortality is not the same as preventing suffering. Maximizing life span may in fact maximize the opportunities for suffering.

Future suffering or death must be discounted to provide a present value. It is more valuable to save a life now than to save a life a year from now, all else being equal.

Harry would also have to consider opportunity costs and the likelihood of success. He knows that dementors can be killed now. Finding an acceptable magical approach to immortality is less certain, and may actually take more time to develop than a non-magical approach. Harry's optimal approach may be to kill dementors now, research the nature of magic, and to wait for muggle science to find immortality.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 November 2010 03:23:11PM 2 points [-]

That seems to suggest that Harry has entirely given up on the idea of judging people by what they do... at least, when it comes to Quirrell.

Quirrel is a schemer and what he does or rather wants you to think he does is not what he really did. Let's take the dementor for an example. What Quirrel did was bring a powerful creature within reach of Harry with the effect of almost killing him. But also with the effect of teaching Harry the true Patronus. How would you judge Quirrel according to this deed? With a more straight forward character you could assume he really wanted to teach the children to defend themselves which probably is good. And Harry realized that this straight forward reasoning doesn't apply to Quirrel.

Comment author: AdShea 01 December 2010 01:10:39AM 0 points [-]

In this instance Quirrel probably realized something of the problem with good and powerful wizards could not cast Patroni and thought that Harry's absolutely odd way of thinking of things might be able to solve it. It would make sense that he should do this quickly as his plans to turn Harry into a Dark Lord might get in the way of this.

Comment author: nazgulnarsil 29 November 2010 08:10:05PM *  0 points [-]

somewhat unrelated question: I've been recommended the Shinji and Warhammer fanfic as another whose main point of departure is a removal of the idiot ball. Has anyone read a significant fraction of this fanfic and would you recommend it?

Comment author: Leonhart 29 November 2010 10:14:05PM *  4 points [-]

It's a great deal of fun, but it was written by an Awesomeness Maximiser (or at least an initiate of the Awesome Conspiracy), not a rationalist. What the fic shares with MoR is not a lack of the Idiot Ball, but a sense of... embiggening, as if walls around the canon were suddenly removed. I don't know how better to put it.

Actually, a good comparison of 40K!Shinji and MoR!Harry would be illuminating, but I'd have to reread it before trying. There are parallels, although the former's mental uberness is more along Paul Atreides lines - the details aren't quite there.

I imagine it also depends on how much you know/like the two settings, because that conjunction magnifies the effect (for me at least). 40K is a setting composed entirely of insane heroism in the face of death. NGE is a setting where the whole world desperately yearns for awesome, but the flawed hero's inability to deliver awesome brings everything crashing down. To some extent, every NGE fanfic is a Fix Fic, because the canon just hurts so much.

Using 40K as the patch happens to work really, really well. Canon!Shinji would be incapable of casting the True Patronus. 40K!Shinji pretty much IS one.

Comment author: Raemon 29 November 2010 08:18:25PM *  12 points [-]

Chapter 63: The last chapter was very satisfying. I was afraid it might be something along the lines of "and then Harry went to Ravenclaw dorm and glanced at Hermione sadly and then when to bed, the end." Instead I got not one but TWO good Hermione scenes,as well as a nice resolution for literally every character. While I look forward to the next act, I think I can spend the next month in relative peace. So thank you.

One thing that's been concerning me is Harry's view of Hermione. I'm assuming/hoping that you intend to delve into this further, because idolizing someone to the degree that Harry does Hermione is not healthy. I had a friend/romantic-interest (who did not return my affections in that way) that I put on a pedestal. And unlike Hermione, she really HAD been dedicating her life to helping people. I looked at her as a beacon of hope for what humanity could be like. And she knew that's how I looked at her, and it was hella awkward and it (along with other factors) caused us to drift apart for a while.

By now I've successfully split my "beacon of human salvation" mental construct and the "replica of my friend" mental construct into two separate thing, allowing me to have hope for humanity that is not contingent on a friend being flawlessly perfect and a person I can treat like a real friend even when they make mistakes.

This was touched upon a little when Hermione realized "I haven't helped anyone." Not exactly the same circumstances that I was in, but seems to indicate that Hermione has room for growth and isn't quite as good (yet) as Harry thinks she is.

Comment author: Danylo 30 November 2010 03:21:48AM 3 points [-]

Is Harry already aware of the Horcrux's and the need for a servant to revive Voldermort? He seemed to completely ignore that bit of information when Dumbledore mentioned it to him.

Comment author: Raemon 30 November 2010 06:03:21PM 4 points [-]

He completely ignored a lot of information because he was still processing a lot of old information, was trying to maintain a false personality in front of an incredibly intimidating wizard, and was exhausted to boot.

Comment author: Danylo 01 December 2010 12:55:42AM 0 points [-]

True, but we saw him the next day as well. I find it hard to believe that he wouldn't even reflect on his conversation. The dark lord coming back isn't the kind of thing you ignore, even if you know it's false.

Comment author: Raemon 01 December 2010 03:32:39AM 2 points [-]

I think after spending a day in an agonizing place of torment trying to rescue someone and then have it turn out that be basically ruined everything... it's seriously okay if he spends a day agonizing over that before he starts trying to solve his next puzzle.

Everything went wrong in Azkaban specifically because he LOST his grip on rationality. It doesn't make a lot of sense to try and solve the next problem until he's sure he's got his head on straight.

Comment author: mkehrt 30 November 2010 07:20:57AM 4 points [-]

rot13ed because I am convinced I am correct and so this counts as a spoiler ;-)

It's pretty obvious to me that Santa Claus is fvevhf oynpx, nffhzvat gung "v'z abg frevbhf" zrnaf ur vfa'g va nmxnona.

Has this been discussed? It seems to fit, especially given the way things worked out in canon.

Comment author: thomblake 30 November 2010 02:24:50PM 0 points [-]

discussed here (tvtropes)

Comment author: HonoreDB 30 November 2010 04:47:57PM 0 points [-]

It makes the most sense to me too, but it certainly doesn't have to be true.

How about Gilderoy Lockhart or Horace Slughorn, cynically trying to curry favor with the Boy-Who-Lived? Maybe he sends presents (through a corrupt House Elf?) to all the promising students in Hogwarts.

Comment author: FAWS 30 November 2010 05:11:07PM 6 points [-]

I don't think any version of Lockhart even remotely similar to the original would be psychologically capable of doing something good for someone without mentioning his name.

Comment author: alethiophile 02 December 2010 01:01:13AM 2 points [-]

Where on earth would either have gotten the True Cloak of Invisibility? The first note suggests that Santa Claus knows James Potter well and is trusted by him, assuming that the note is telling the truth and Santa did not just steal the cloak from James. That fits Serius or Lupin, or perhaps Pettigrew if he's still alive in MoR.

(Has the guilt/innocence of the Marauders changed from canon? Other things of equal backstory significance have, so I'm uncomfortable just assuming that Pettigrew is guilty.)

Comment author: HonoreDB 02 December 2010 02:28:41AM 1 point [-]

Just to reiterate, I really do think it's Sirius! But, devil's advocate.

Slughorn was on good terms with Lily. If he were researching the Deathly Hallows, he'd have an in.

Lockhart may have already been a celebrity. Maybe he wrote a book about going on a quest through darkest New Jersey for the Resurrection Stone, and James was foolish enough to send him the Cloak for analysis. Lockhart is trying to cozy up to Harry anonymously so that, should he end up stealing his identity, there won't be a paper trail.

Comment author: CronoDAS 30 November 2010 11:45:13PM 0 points [-]

According to Half-Blood Prince, magic can't create "true love" - the closest thing to a "love potion" that exists in canon would more be described more accurately as an "obsession potion" or "stalker potion". Which means the throwaway line in chapter 63 about Belldandy and a love potion doesn't really make sense.