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Land war in Asia

16 Apprentice 07 December 2016 07:31PM

Introduction: Here's a misconception about World War II that I think is harmful and I don't see refuted often enough.

Misconception: In 1941, Hitler was sitting pretty with most of Europe conquered and no huge difficulties on the horizon. Then, due to his megalomania and bullshit ideology, he decided to invade Russia. This was an unforced error of epic proportions. It proved his undoing, like that of Napoleon before him.

Rebuttal: In hindsight, we think of the Soviet Union as a superpower and military juggernaut which you'd be stupid to go up against. But this is not how things looked to the Germans in 1941. Consider World War I. In 19171918, Germany and Austria had defeated Russia at the same time as they were fighting a horrifyingly bloody war with France and Britain - and another devastating European war with Italy. In 1941, Italy was an ally, France had been subdued and Britain wasn't in much of a position to exert its strength. Seemingly, the Germans had much more favorable conditions than in the previous round. And they won the previous round.

In addition, the Germans were not crazy to think that the Red Army was a bit of a joke. The Russians had had their asses handed to them by Poland in 1920 and in 19391940 it had taken the Russians three months and a ridiculous number of casualties to conquer a small slice of Finland.

Nevertheless, Russia did have a lot of manpower and a lot of equipment (indeed, far more than the Germans had thought) and was a potential threat. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was obviously cynical and the Germans were not crazy to think that they would eventually have to fight the Russians. Being the first to attack seemed like a good idea and 1941 seemed like a good time to do it. The potential gains were very considerable. Launching the invasion was a rational military decision.

Why this matters: The idea that Hitler made his most fatal decision for irrational reasons feeds into the conception that evil and irrationality must go hand in hand. It's the same kind of thinking that makes people think a superintelligence would automatically be benign. But there is no fundamental law of the universe which prevents a bad guy from conquering the world. Hitler lost his war with Russia for perfectly mundane and contingent reasons like, “the communists had been surprisingly effective at industrialization.”

Comment author: Vaniver 02 March 2015 02:34:17PM 3 points [-]

This may also be a genuine mistake, my reading too much into things, a spell Voldemort cast for the ambience, or something else, but I thought it worth considering. Any thoughts?

I suspect this is artistic license.

Comment author: Apprentice 02 March 2015 07:17:57PM 6 points [-]

I doubt Eliezer - champion of truth and science - would permit himself artistic license with this sort of thing. I think it is more likely that this is a genuine mistake on his part.

Comment author: iwfan53 01 March 2015 08:14:38PM *  4 points [-]

I have a way of escaping that uses an item that has been established.

A: In the interest of keeping it simple the thing the most obvious answer for something Harry can do that he in theory could teach Voldermort/keep him talking is partial transfiguration.

B: Once Harry tells Voldermort that he can partially transfigure things, Voldermort will want to know the words/motions. Harry can say that he can teach Voldermort (he can't teach him how to cast a Patronus due to Voldermort's lack of love and he can't teach him how not to fear the death the way Harry does, but Harry CAN teach Voldermort how to see the world made up of component atoms given enough time) but it would be easier to teach while doing/give him a visible example of how it works as he teaches (not a lie, it would be possible to teach without doing, but Parseltongue allows for lies of omission) this can open the door to at the very least get the orders moved from “Kill him if he tries to cast a spell” to “lets see you do it while I stand behind/off to the side/under heavy shields” while Voldermort watches Harry try to partially transfigure something, or at least keep Voldermort listening longer than the first 60 seconds, and how he reacts to the knowledge will determine what options are open to us next.

C: Once Harry brings up the point he can also suggest to Voldermort that he might want to dismiss any of the Death Eaters who he does not want to have present while Harry explains/demonstrates the nature of this power. Because while he can speak only in Parseltongue, he'll still have to be showing it off in front of everyone Voldermort wants present. Voldermort is probably much too smart to actually fall for this, and lead to him dismissing any of the Death Eaters, but spelling it out can buy Harry a few more seconds/Voldermort might decide to dismiss one or two of his followers, there is no downside to doing it.

D: Harry explains in Parseltongue that he show the power of partial transfiguration by changing the glasses he is wearing, which he will take off, and hold in one hand, while he holds the wand in the other.

E: Harry will transfigure half of the glasses into half of a playing card.

F: As soon as the transfiguration is complete and around the same time Lord Voldermort possibly starting to recognizes the king of hearts, Harry will bite down on the card with his teeth, and pull with the hand that held it, ripping it in half.

Yes I know it was said that he was supposed to have a Toe-Ring as a Harry's "Emergency Portkey", but that's helpful the same way that the Chamber on the third floor was helpful at keeping people out. It's meant to look more helpful/threatening than it really is.

Given that Harry is wearing a ring just like that one, with Hermonine's body in it instead, where is Harry's "Emergency Portkey"? Well wouldn't the perfect place to have one, be something he'd never be without, something that he'd always have within hands reach, something he could finger and caress and adjust without drawing too much attention?

Say the glasses on his face...

G: As it has not been previously established within the story what Harry has done with the playing card deck he got from “Santa Claus” it is not impossible or against the rules to suggest that Harry transfigured the king of hearts into a pair of glasses. He is saving himself via efforts that he had taken in advance that do not directly contradict anything we have previously been shown (the equivalent of an extended flashback scene in Leverage which shows far more happen than the initial version of the scene we saw for the first time)

H: Likewise it has never been ruled that a portkey looses its powers if it is transfigured into some other form than the one it had in the first place.

I: It is reasonable to assume that with his life depending upon it, Harry can tear a card apart faster than the time it will take for Voldermort to realize what is happening, give the order to attack, or cast a spell himself (even non-verbally) and have the spell cross the distance between himself and Harry, likewise he can do it fast enough that he can at least avoid being fatally shot by Voldermort.

J: As they have walked several miles they are clearly outside the grounds of Hogwarts, so its wards are not in play. Given that the Death Eaters were able to apparate to the graveyard rather than flying there on broomsticks, it is safe to assume that the graveyard had not previously been warded to prevent people from apparating to or from it before they did.

There is nothing in the story describing Voldermort or any of the others warding it afterwards. The wards that Voldermort mentions are clearly of an anti-time turning verity since he mentions the six hour limit so they'd be anti-time turner, but clearly anti-time turning can't be the same thing as anti-aparating because you can Phoenix into Azkabhan but not time turner inside it, or apparate inside it.

Likewise it is unlikely that the place was set up previously before they arrived to let you have a one way apparation (in but not out, assuming such a thing is possible with apparation we see it requires a magical artifact or a phoenix to get into Azkhaban there may be no such thing as a one way apparation ward), because magic that powerful would end up getting noticed which is what Voldermort doesn't want to happen since he needed the site of his ritual to not stand out.

So we have not had it directly spelled out that apparition and by effect portkeys can't be used to leave the garveyard and we have some fair evidence that it could be possible With that in mind, tearing up the card should cause Harry to be taken “somewhere in London”, and the old saying “Anywhere is better than here” doubtlessly applies at the moment.

K: Not only will he be somewhere else, but unless Voldermort was lying in a situation he would have no reason to lie in, and possesses powers dealing with portkey location determination that haven't shown up anywhere else in the story (nobody in cannon Potter or this Potter is shown to be able to tell where a portkey will take someone just by studying it) it is logical to assume that if Harry tears the card up, then Voldermort can not simply apparate right after Harry, and instead will have to start searching London for him.

L: While Voldermort starts to look for him Harry can cast a Patronus to get help from others, and start using partial transfiguration to make whatever materials he expects to need.

At the very least, by this point he has surely avoided “immediate death”. While meeting the following rules.

Harry must succeed via his own efforts. The cavalry is not coming. Everyone who might want to help Harry thinks he is at a Quidditch game.

This solution requires no “cavalry” the outside help Harry has been given (the king of hearts) is already well established.

Harry may only use capabilities the story has already shown him to have; he cannot develop wordless wandless Legilimency in the next 60 seconds.

Harry's ability to partially transfigure objects is well established already within this story.

Voldemort is evil and cannot be persuaded to be good; the Dark Lord's utility function cannot be changed by talking to him.

This is not an issue as the solution involves Harry escaping from Voldermort, and doing so simply by obeying his orders until the very last moment.

Harry raises his wand or speaks in anything except Parseltongue, the Death Eaters will fire on him immediately.

Harry can partially transfigure his glasses back into half a playing card without raising his wand by taking off his glasses and holding them lower to the ground, it is not unreasonable for him to also say that this skill requires intense concentration in Parseltongue (because it does) which is why he will be slightly hunched over examining the glasses very carefully as he works on them. This will have the effect of getting Harry's teeth closer to the edge of the card so he can bite and tear more quickly.

If the simplest timeline is otherwise one where Harry dies -if Harry cannot reach his Time-Turner without Time-Turned help -then the Time-Turner will not come into play.

Though time travel could without question be useful in the immediate future (for a given definition of “future”) this plan does not require any monkeying about with timelines to work, Harry can have taken this precaution at any point in time since he showed Voldermort the card itself back in chapter 65.

It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue.

Everything Harry needs to say in Parseltongue is truthful.

1:Harry knows how to partially transfigure.

2:Harry could teach Voldermort how to do it.

3:Voldermort should send away any Death Eaters he does not wish to see the process being done slowly and carefully before their eyes as opposed to being used quickly in battle.

4: Harry will show off the skill by partially transfiguring his glasses which he will hold in one hand, while he holds his wand in the other.

Given that there is no rule 7: “Harry is not allowed to have taken any precautions we did not see him take on screen/in writing” this by following steps A through L Harry can arrive naked “somewhere in London” naked with half of his glasses and his wand, but alive.

Can anyone see a way to improve this plan/ any obvious flaw?

Comment author: Apprentice 01 March 2015 09:55:23PM 5 points [-]

In chapter 104 we have this: "Harry had refreshed the Transfigurations he was maintaining, both the tiny jewel in the ring on his hand and the other one, in case he was knocked unconscious". The other one was Hermione's body. This suggests that the glasses are not a transfigured item.

Comment author: spriteless 01 March 2015 04:38:47PM 2 points [-]

Transfer something into non-toxic gas, wait for everyone to inhale it, then dispel the transfiguration. It's faster.

Comment author: Apprentice 01 March 2015 06:17:47PM *  1 point [-]

Great idea! When everyone has inhaled the gas Harry can truthfully say in parseltongue that if he dies, everyone present will die (because that would cancel the transfiguration).

Edit: This work well with all the early foreshadowing about how transfiguration is extremely dangerous. In Ghostbusters we establish early on that you're not supposed to cross the streams because that is extremely dangerous. And then, at the end of the move, when all is lost, what you do is to deliberately cross the streams.

Comment author: Princess_Stargirl 25 October 2014 06:21:52PM 5 points [-]

I was about to post that quote too. Surely IQ has nothing to do with "ability to process on the fly" or "pull together disparate bits of information."

Comment author: Apprentice 25 October 2014 06:57:47PM 10 points [-]

It's of course possible that this Bock guy knows what he's doing on the hiring front. But in these interviews he has no incentive to give Google's competitors coherent helpful information on how to hire people - and every incentive to send out obfuscated messages which might flatter the preconceptions of NYT readers.

Comment author: Zubon 25 October 2014 02:23:11AM *  4 points [-]

"We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time ... They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart."

Link: Here's Why Google Stopped Asking Bizarre, Crazy-Hard Interview Questions

Comment author: Apprentice 25 October 2014 03:30:28PM *  5 points [-]

Bock said ... that learning ability was much more important indicator of whether someone would be a good fit for Google than I.Q.

I have limited trust in a source which says things like that.

Edited to add: More on Bock's learning ability:

For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.

Yeah, nope.

Comment author: Apprentice 11 March 2014 11:08:54PM 2 points [-]

Truth has her throne on the shadowy back of doubt.

-- Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), Savitri - A Legend and a Symbol

Comment author: Apprentice 01 March 2014 05:53:24PM *  6 points [-]

Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true.

Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgression of a parent. Behold, I say that a child is not guilty because of its parents.

And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ. And ye say also that he shall be slain for the sins of the world –

And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.

Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God -- a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.

-- The Book of Mormon (Alma 30.24-28)

Edit: I'm mildly surprised by the reactions to this quote. The thing I find interesting about it is that Joseph Smith was apparently sufficiently familiar with Voltairesque anti-Christian ideas that he could relay them coherently and with some gusto. This goes some way towards passing the ideological Turing test.

Comment author: SaidAchmiz 19 February 2014 12:15:26AM 5 points [-]

And if the Church and the materialists are both wrong and there are ghosts, what could be the harm in a ghost? What could such a poor wispy thing do to one?

If the Church is wrong, and the materialists are wrong, then it seems that we really know very little about how the world works; and if this is so, then on what, exactly, can you base this dismissal?

In many fictional settings, ghosts can be very harmful indeed. What if the ghost has telekinetic powers? What if it can cast magic spells? What if it can possess you and devour your soul? No, if I were inclined to go ahead and believe in ghosts, I would not then proceed to dismiss their threat so easily.

Comment author: Apprentice 19 February 2014 07:53:19AM 4 points [-]

No, if I were inclined to go ahead and believe in ghosts, I would not then proceed to dismiss their threat so easily.

I agree, that seems to be the weakest step. What I guess he means is that if there are ghosts they seem to be quite wispy and unobtrusive. If they went around and did a lot of stuff we would presumably have good evidence for their existence.

Comment author: Apprentice 18 February 2014 11:27:26PM 2 points [-]

You don't believe in ghosts, right? Well, neither do I. But how would you like to spend a night alone in a graveyard? I am subject to night fears, and I can tell you that I shouldn't like it at all. And yet I am perfectly well aware that fear of ghosts is contrary to science, reason, and religion. If I were sentenced to spend a night alone in a graveyard, I should know beforehand that no piece of evidence was going to transpire during the night that would do anything to raise the infinitesimal prior probability of the hypothesis that there are ghosts. I should already know that twigs were going to snap and the wind moan and that there would be half-seen movements in the darkness. And I should know that the inevitable occurrences of these things would be of no evidential value whatever. And yet, after I had been frog-marched into the graveyard, I should feel a thrill of fear every time one of these things happened. I could reason with myself: "I believe that the dead are in Heaven or Hell, or else that they sleep until the General Resurrection. And if my religion is an illusion, then some form of materialism is the correct metaphysic, and materialism is incompatible with the existence of ghosts. And if the Church and the materialists are both wrong and there are ghosts, what could be the harm in a ghost? What could such a poor wispy thing do to one?" And what would the value of this very cogent piece of reasoning be? None at all, at least in respect of allaying my fear of ghosts.

-- Peter van Inwagen

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